Manchester United might have advantage in Erling Haaland transfer chase

You wouldn’t know it from looking at Erling Braut Haaland’s goal numbers, but Borussia Dortmund are not actually having a particularly good season in Germany’s top flight. Haaland's 33 goals rather conceals the weakness of his team's hand.

They currently sit in fifth place, almost 20 points off the Bundesliga’s summit and having sacked a manager in December. Forget catching Bayern Munich for the title, for BVB it’s simply about making sure they qualify for Europe’s premier tournament next season.

So while English fans can look forward to Dortmund’s upcoming Champions League quarter-final encounter with Man City — a tie brimming with subplots, given Jadon Sancho’s connections to the club — domestic matters may soon take precedence in the North Rhineland.

And what ramifications could such Bundesliga failure have for Haaland's future, and for Manchester United’s interest in signing the uber-prolific Norwegian marksman?

Much of the conversation around United’s interest in Haaland has centred around his relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his former manager in Norway with Molde between 2017 and 2018.

The general consensus has been, given the closeness that exists between Haaland and Solskjaer, that this personal factor could be decisive in persuading the 20-year-old to choose United when judgement day comes.

It now appears inevitable Haaland will have the pick of Premier League clubs in either this summer’s transfer window or the next one. He has his own ties to the United Kingdom having grown up either side of the M62 watching his dad, Alf Inge, play for Manchester City and Leeds. And the Premier League will pay better too.

So with a connection to two of United’s rivals (one of whom in City could well land his signature) it has to be a Solskjaer charm offensive to bring Haaland to Old Trafford, right?

Wrong. United should have much more to offer than a friendly face, even if plenty of players have given ringing endorsements of Solskjaer’s man-management style.

United will hope, with director of football John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher in tow, they now have the tools needed to pull off such a seismic transfer. They were tools they lacked last summer in their failed pursuit of Sancho.

The Englishman’s Dortmund teammate may be even harder to prise away from the German club, especially if they seal Champions League qualification and with that fabled £70million release clause not active until June 2022. That's why many United fans aren't optimistic about the chances of seeing Haaland in a red shirt.

When asked this week by Norwegian media outlet VG what qualities a club must have for him to sign for them, Haaland gave a blunt response: "They must want me."

He had already poured cold water on the rumours that are now becoming rife with each day that the summer window draws closer.

He said: "I still have a three-year contract, I'm not concerned about that."

But if Dortmund don’t get into next season’s Champions League group stage, you have to think Haaland will be there, by hook or by crook.

United will surely wrap up a spot in next season's Champions League and may also have the allure of being holders of a European trophy by then, if they can go all the way in the Europa League.

It looks unlikely that Dortmund will seal Champions League qualification by winning the thing; and they’re four points off the pace in the Bundesliga top-four battle.

United don't quite hold all the aces, but they have a kingmaker in Solskjaer and a potential king in Haaland. His arrival would give them a full house in attack.

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