The first official talks that could lead to the transfer of Erling Haaland to Barcelona have begun, according to reports.
Haaland is one of the most in-demand players in the world. The striker has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence and is commanding interest from clubs bigger than current employers Borussia Dortmund. A Premier League move has been suggested, for example.
Manchester City are one of the main contenders to sign Haaland, especially now they have confirmed Sergio Aguero will be released this summer. The Norway international could prove to be the perfect successor.
Chelsea are also keen on a big-money move for the 20-year-old, although the interest is not necessarily mutual.
There have also been plenty of rumours of interest from Manchester United, who tried to sign him before he joined Dortmund. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer worked with Haaland early in his career at Molde.
But now, one of the other European giants hoping to sign Haaland have made their first move.
Haaland’s father Alf-Inge and agent Mino Raiola have been pictured in Barcelona. According to ESPN, a meeting has taken place with the Catalan club’s officials.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta and recently-appointed director of football Mateu Alemany were in attendance. The meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours, but talks are still in the early stages.
The La Liga giants are trying to work out how they would fund a move for Haaland. It is believed that Dortmund are holding out for a fee of €180m this summer, even though they are susceptible to losing him for a cheaper release clause the following summer.
Amid the great competition for his signature, Barcelona are now stepping up their pursuit. First, they must clear out some high earners to fund a potential deal.
Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Antoine Griezmann are all at risk of being moved on. Barca will need to reduce their wage bill to free up space for Haaland.
Clubs like Real Madrid or Man City would find it easier to stump up the funds needed for the deal. But Barcelona do not want to miss out, as Haaland could guarantee them success for the next decade.
They are thus hoping that Raiola’s positive relationship with Laporta and technical secretary Ramon Planes could give them an advantage.
Haaland has huge salary demands
It is not just the transfer fee that Barcelona will need to fork out for. A recent report highlighted how much Haaland wants as a salary.
Raiola will try to negotiate wages of £600,000 per week for his client over a five-year contract, according to The Sun.
That would be a serious drain on Barcelona’s finances, but there are major benefits to a potential deal as well.
Not only would Haaland’s potential signing help them compete for the biggest honours over the next few years, it could also help convince Lionel Messi to stay.
Messi is out of contract in the summer, but Laporta’s return could help persuade him to extend his deal. That contract would also be a major one for Barca to spend on, though.
Hence, they will have to try and offload some of their unwanted players who still possess value.