Ahead of the upcoming derby, Fabrizio Romano has revealed how close Erling Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo came to joining the Manchester club they didn’t sign for.
Ronaldo and Haaland are two of the finest examples of complete centre forward play. They’re 15 years apart in age, though both will hope to be decisive in the Manchester derby on Sunday.
Man Utd travel to the Etihad on the back of four successive league wins. Man City, meanwhile, are yet to taste defeat this season.
Haaland is a shoe-in to start while Ronaldo may have to wait for the call from the bench. However, according to Romano, both strikers could well have lined up for the opposite team this weekend.
Man Utd were a known admirer of Haaland during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the club. The Norwegian connection was clear and Solskjer had managed Haaland in the past during their time at Molde.
Now, via Caught Offside, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claimed Solskjaer did attempt to sign Haaland while he played for RB Salzburg.
However, the striker turned his nose up at the move, believing joining Borussia Dortmund was the “perfect” next step in his career.
Serie A side also failed with Haaland move
“One of the most in-form players in Europe this season, City’s summer signing Erling Haaland was close to joining Manchester United when he was at Red Bull Salzburg,” said Romano.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried to persuade him but he wanted to proceed with Borussia Dortmund as the perfect step in his career despite also having proposals from United and Juventus.”
Haaland operated at around a goal per game in Germany. Few can now argue his decision wasn’t the right one.
He and Kylian Mbappe look certainties to become the world’s best players in a post-Lionel Messi and Ronaldo era.
Regarding Ronaldo, Romano also stated how far advanced his proposed move to Man City was in 2021.
Pep Guardiola’s side pushed to sign the Portuguese icon when it became apparent Juventus wanted rid.
Upon getting wind of Man City’s impending coup, Man Utd mobilised, securing Ronaldo’s signature from under City’s nose.
Why did Ronaldo to Man City collapse?
Romano acknowledged City’s interest in acquiring Ronaldo two summers ago. However, he stressed the move was not as far advanced as some reported and issues with agent Jorge Mendes were still outstanding.
“As you’ll remember last summer, there were talks over a surprise move for Cristiano Ronaldo to join Manchester City,” continued the journalist.
“Still, it was never 100 percent approved by the board or by the technical staff at City.
“There were also some issues at Ronaldo’s end with his agent Jorge Mendes. The deal collapsed, even though Juventus were happy to accept the move.
“In the end, United appeared on the scene. Ronaldo was happy to join them as soon as their interest became apparent.”
Lucky escape for Man City
Had City signed Ronaldo, it stands to reason they might never have signed Haaland.
What’s more, City got another lucky break upon missing out on Harry Kane at the beginning of the 2021 summer window too.
City lodged multiple bids well in excess of £100m. Tottenham supremo Daniel Levy was in no mood to sell his best player, knocking back all bids.
Kane would undoubtedly have been a fine fit for Guardiola’s system. However, like the Ronaldo signing, if Kane had joined, Haaland probably would not have.
Haaland is 15 years younger than Ronaldo and seven years younger than Kane. Given the way he’s started his career at the Etihad, things in the market could not have gone better for City.