Borussia Dortmund chief reveals how close Erling Haaland was to Man Utd transfer in 2019

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Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has revealed how close Erling Haaland was to joining Manchester United from RB Salzburg in 2019. United battled Dortmund for the Norwegian superstar’s signature, but he opted for the latter and could join Manchester City this summer to rub salt in Red Devils wounds.

Ahead of the January transfer window in 2020, Haaland had burst onto the scene and particularly caught the eye in the Champions League. As a result, plenty of clubs were interested in triggering his £18million release clause, but United and Dortmund were the frontrunners.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had made Haaland a priority transfer target following the Red Devils’ failure to replace Romelu Lukaku in the previous summer window. And the Norwegian boss even met up with his former Molde striker, believing he had struck an agreement with him over a January move.

But reports claimed Ed Woodward pulled out of a deal due to Mino Raiola’s agent fee demands and a reluctance to include a release clause in Haaland’s contract at Old Trafford. It led to Dortmund swooping in at the end of December, days before the January window opened, to secure his services.

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Interestingly, Dortmund CEO Watzke has now confirmed the reports about United’s withdrawal were true, claiming Haaland would’ve joined the club if they included a release clause in his contract. He told 19:09 Talk: “We gave Erling Haaland a release clause… otherwise he would have gone to Manchester United.”

While United went on to sign Odion Ighalo on a loan deal in the closing stages of January, Haaland has registered 82 goals and 20 assists in 86 games for the Bundesliga outfit. But the Red Devils’ fears over a release clause could bite Dortmund in the back this summer, with the 21-year-old on the verge of an exit.

Haaland will be available for £64m at the end of the season, courtesy of said clause, and, to rub salt in United’s wounds after their near-miss of 2019, he is understood to be closing in on a switch to bitter rivals Man City. The Premier League champions look set to seal what, at first glance, poses as a coup, given his current quality and overwhelming potential.

On Haaland’s future, Watzke explained Dortmund would make sure to find his replacement, as they have previously done with the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. “He has a decision to make, it will come eventually,” Watzke added. “But I’m sure we’ll find the new Haaland. We need the new Haaland.”

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