Man City lead Chelsea and Real Madrid in £90m chase for Dortmund star Haaland

Man City lead Chelsea and Real Madrid in £90m chase for Dortmund star Haaland

Manchester United are reluctant to enter a bidding war for Erling Haaland this summer, with Manchester City emerging as favourites to sign the prolific Borussia Dortmund star.

United thought they had a deal tied up for Haaland in January 2020, after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer flew to Austria for talks with his fellow Norwegian, but the Red Bull Salzburg striker made a £19.5million move to Dortmund instead.

City, Chelsea and Real Madrid will lead the chase for Haaland if the 20-year-old leaves Germany in the summer, having already scored 37 goals in 34 appearances for Dortmund and Norway this season.

United are still interested in Haaland but will struggle to compete financially with their Premier League rivals in the current economic climate, especially because his £90m buyout clause can only be activated if the fee is paid in one instalment.

United are also wary of negotiating with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, and his father, Alf-Inge Haaland, after the breakdown of his move to Old Trafford 14 months ago soured relations between the camps.

It is a sign of Raiola’s antipathy towards United that he is prepared to bury the hatchet with Pep Guardiola — their long-running feud dates back to Guardiola’s fall-out with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona — and discuss a move to City, where Haaland’s father spent three years as a player.

It is understood that initial contact has been made between City and the Haaland camp, although Chelsea also have the resources to pull off one of the biggest transfer deals of the summer.

Solskjaer worked with Haaland at Molde and admitted recently he is still in contact with the player but said United need to be realistic about their transfer plans.

City, meanwhile, are attempting to rectify problems with an Etihad Stadium surface that Guardiola believes has hampered his side in recent weeks.

The pitch was clearly a problem during last week’s 4-1 victory over Wolves and City’s groundstaff reseeded earlier this week.

Sportsmail understands the Premier League leaders, whose surface is the joint-oldest in the division with Burnley’s, are planning to dig up and then rebuild the pitch this summer.

‘They are working to find a solution but the grass isn’t good,’ Guardiola said. ‘The weather conditions here in England are tough, but there are stadiums where the grass is good. 

We were in London against Arsenal, we were in Anfield, even in Old Trafford, and the grass was better than ours. We were in Budapest and the grass was incredible.’

City were due to undertake an expensive overhaul of the pitch last year and did not book any summer concerts in preparation, but that was ultimately delayed as a result of the pandemic.

Phil Foden admitted a muddy top contributed to City finding playing out from the back tricky during the 5-2 win over Southampton on Wednesday.

Famed for his attention to detail, Guardiola demands exact measurements of grass length. When appointed, he asked for the Etihad and training ground pitches to stand 19mm high, in line with those he had experienced at Bayern Munich, before agreeing a compromise of 23mm to allow for rain and cold weather.

City have still managed to win 10 of their last 11 matches at home, only losing against rivals Manchester United last week. They can go 17 points clear of their rivals with victory at Fulham on Saturday night.

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