Braut Haaland:-Europe’s top teenage talents centre of a tug-of-war between Man united,Leipzig and Dortmund
The winter transfer window has not opened yet but already one of Europe’s top teenage talents is at the centre of a tug-of-war between some of the continent’s biggest clubs.
Erling Braut Haaland has taken the Champions League by storm, becoming the first teenager to score in five consecutive games in the competition. However, despite the Norwegian’s eight goals in six group games, Red Bull Salzburg were unable to reach the knockout stage of the tournament.
Salzburg finished third behind Liverpool and Napoli, ensuring European football in the spring as they drop into the Europa League, but Haaland could continue in the Champions League as Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have both met with the 19-year-old and his representatives.
The Bundesliga clubs face stiff competition from Manchester United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopeful Haaland will decide to stick with the Europa League but at Old Trafford rather than at Salzburg.
“I don’t comment on those speculations,” Solskjaer said of the transfer talk. “He knows what he wants to do, and he knows what he’s going to do, so I don’t have to give any advice to any other team’s players.”
Many Red Devils fans are excited about the prospect of signing a player who has scored 28 goals in 22 games in all competitions this season, but a move to United at just 19 looks like the wrong decision for a player who has played less than 100 senior games in his career to date.
Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund had initially claimed that he thought January would be too soon for Haaland to leave the club, but revealed the teenager travelled to Germany last week to meet with both Leipzig and Dortmund.
“We are involved in all discussions,” Freund told reporters. “Of course, we knew that Haaland was in Leipzig and Dortmund.
“Everyone in Salzburg wants the best for him.”
What’s best for Haaland is a club where he could get plenty of regular game time in order to develop and help him reach his potential. The Bundesliga clubs would give him a much better chance of this.
Old Trafford already has a talented teenage striker who will be breaking into the starting XI on a more regular basis.
Mason Greenwood is the Red Devils’ second-highest goalscorer this season with seven goals in all competitions. He has made just seven starts in 2019-20 under Solskjaer, with only one of those starts coming in the Premier League.
Solskjaer says a lot of positive things about developing young players and giving opportunities to academy graduates, but game time for teenagers is still more likely to come in the Carabao Cup and Europa League rather than the Premier League.
With United now in the knockout stage of the Europa League and pressure increasing on Solskjaer to get results, these opportunities may become more infrequent for young players.
At Dortmund, Haaland would have a much more straightforward path to the first team. Paco Alcacer is the club’s main striker, but has struggled with injury throughout his career and has not completed a full 90 minutes since August this season.
As a result, Lucien Favre often has to play Marco Reus or Mario Gotze as a false nine, with no fit striker in the squad. Haaland would instantly take this role at the Westfalenstadion and get guaranteed minutes every week for Dortmund.
Similarly, current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig would be a better option for nurturing his talent, especially under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann. Both Leipzig and Nagelsmann have a history of developing youth players and the east German club is one of the best places in Europe for young talent to progress.
Nagelsmann admitted that he had a productive meeting with Haaland, hoping to persuade him of his footballing vision at the Red Bull Arena.
“I tried to explain my ideas about football in good English and I think it was a good conversation, but there is nothing new to announce,” Nagelsmann said.
Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff believes that his club can easily compete with Dortmund to attract young talent, and will also offer the game time Haaland deserves.
“We no longer have to hide behind Borussia Dortmund when it comes to attractiveness,” Mintzlaff said.
“We have a fantastic coach, are in a great city with good fan support. We play attractive football and are a club that gives talented young players plenty of opportunities.”
The path from Salzburg to Leipzig is a well-worn one thanks to the involvement of Red Bull in both clubs. Naby Keita initially moved from Salzburg to Leipzig before taking another step up to join Liverpool and this intermediate step has proven to be a much better idea than moving to a European giant early in a player’s career.
Haaland would not regret rejecting Manchester United at this stage of his career; a move to Old Trafford could see his name added to a long list of talented young signings who failed to make an impact after joining the Red Devils.
Memphis Depay scored just two league goals in his time with United despite being one of the hottest young prospects in Europe. He left after just a year and a half, moving to Lyon where he has been a huge success.
Even the players who stay at Old Trafford and weather the storm find it difficult to succeed. Anthony Martial became the most expensive teenager when he moved from Monaco in 2015, but has been inconsistent and was just recently singled out for criticism by club legend Ryan Giggs.
“He is talented, and he’s not a bad kid, but the problem he has is that he looks lethargic all the time,” Giggs told the Premier League’s official website. “He looks casual, as if he’s not bothered.”
This is the kind of spotlight Haaland would be under at Old Trafford. Game time would be limited but performances expected every single week. Otherwise, criticism will come thick and fast and could further hinder his development.
Haaland could be a brilliant player for Manchester United one day, but he needs to think about what’s best for his career now – and that’s to reject them in favour of somewhere where he can be guaranteed to play.