‘I kept telling them’ - Haaland transfer revelation Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal fans will hate
The Norwegian striker has already made an instant impact in England since signing for Manchester City.
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The 22-year-old sensation has established himself as one of the most prolific goalscorers in European football in recent seasons, and has already registered 13 goals in nine games across all competitions for Manchester City since signing from Borussia Dortmund over the summer.
Prior to his move to the Etihad, Haaland had scored 86 times in 89 outings for the German club.
But John Vik, formerly chief scout at Norwegian club Molde, has claimed that the forward’s career path could have been wholly different had United followed up on his advice take the player to Old Trafford when he was still an academy prospect.
Speaking to The Athletic, Vik said: “I remember one day when I was watching Erling train.
“He had been with us seven or eight months, he was training really hard and he had become part of the squad. I walked down to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was Molde’s manager, and I said, ‘You have to call Manchester United, mate – this is unreal what we are looking at.’
“Me and Ole understood that this kid was so good we were not going to be able to keep him.
“Ole agreed with absolutely everything. ‘I will put a phone call in’, he said, ‘they need to hear about this kid’. We had friends at United. I used to work closely with United, in the early 2000s, and most of the guys I knew had gone. But Ole was Ole. ‘For God’s sake’, I said, ‘call Nicky Butt [then United’s head of academy], or call somebody, because this kid is unreal’.
“This was even before Erling had really started to play for Molde properly. Ole put the phone call in. So the name was put in. Then, how or whether United followed it up, I don’t know.”
Vik has also claimed that a number of scouts from English clubs fundamentally misunderstood the type of player Haaland was in the early stages of his career on account of his impressive physical stature.
He continued: “I think they [the English scouts] looked at him as a target man because he was so big.
“I kept telling them, ‘He’s not a target man – if you’re going to judge him that way, you’re going to be disappointed’.
“I remember one occasion when the team were out in Spain. I was with some of my colleagues from Premier League clubs and I remember saying, ‘I have to repeat myself, guys, don’t judge him as a target man, you have to look beyond that. He runs in between, he chases space, he’s fantastic in the box, he’s that kind of player’.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Am I the guy who is getting it wrong? Am I seeing this the wrong way?’
“But there has always been this perception with some English clubs that a striker needs to look a certain way, and that a centre-half needs to look a certain way, and you need a certain frame for a certain role. When they were seeing a big striker like Erling, they were seeing a target man and I think they forgot to look at what else he could do.
“Liverpool could have got him. Arsenal could have got him. Everyone was there to watch him but these clubs were seeing a No.9 who was tall and broad and, ‘Oh, he’s going to be a target man’. I couldn’t for the life of me see why they had narrowed him down that way.
“I didn’t like him with his back towards the goal and, at the time, he couldn’t really head the ball. I liked it when he turned round, when he chased into pockets, when he ran between the lines, his movement in the box. He didn’t want to hold the ball up, he just wanted to turn and go. There will be a lot of clubs kicking themselves because we can all see now what he is good at.”