January might have come and gone, but the arrival of Erling Haaland at Borussia Dortmund has left a sour taste in Manchester United’s mouths, especially with the glowing performances shown by the centre forward.

The Norway international hit the 40 goal mark on the weekend after netting once again for the Black and Yellows. Since joining the German side, for a measly £18 million as per his buyout clause, Haaland has scored 12 goals in eight matches – a quite ridiculous amount given he is in a completely new environment.

Manchester United might have brought in Odion Ighalo to leviate the issues and injuries they have up front, but the contrast in quality is quite plain to see – even if the Nigerian has not yet had the appropriate game time to shine.

Haaland, at 19, is on an upward trajectory that knows no bounds. To have scored 40 goals in 30 games in February is exceptional, especially with his two against Paris Saint-Germain in the knockout stages. It shows that even at such a young age, the Norwegian has the mental capabilities to handle the pressure and exceed all expectations of him.

As impressive as his goal-scoring rate is, Haaland’s movement and spatial intelligence is second to none. For his latest goal against Werder Bremen, the centre forward magically peeled away from the defender inside the area with two quick feints and a run to the near post. The ball was delivered into him and Haaland tucked it away. The instinctive ability is what sets him apart from other strikers his age and is why Dortmund were pushing for him in January.

Manchester United claim the reason as to why they were put off by going through with the acquisition was due to the demands over release clauses. It is said that he has one in his current Dortmund contract, allowing the player – should he be carrying on at this rate – to exit the club and move on to one of the best clubs in the world.


However, with that decision being made, even if it was only for a short period of time, the Red Devils have missed out on a generational talent. At 19, Haaland’s game should not be as refined as it is on the elite stage, and yet he is showing signs with every match that he is far experienced beyond his years: a testament to the work he has done at former clubs Molde and Red Bull Salzburg.

With Marcus Rashford out injured, it has emphasised to one and all that Manchester United need reliable and mature strikers. While Anthony Martial is a player who has an abundance of talent, he is not, at this stage of his career, dependable in the same manner that Haaland has clearly shown he is. It is also justifiably argued that Martial’s best position is on the left, cutting inside, rather than straight down the middle.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær might revisit Haaland in the years to follow, but with more interest appearing from clubs who can offer trophies as well as financial resources, they will have an even harder task now in attempting to convince the Norwegian that the next best step in his career is to join Manchester United.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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