Manchester City had the money. Haaland’s team had a plan.

A few days before the end of last summer’s transfer window, a few high-ranking Manchester City executives gathered in the club’s spacious campus conference room to take a look at what went well and what went wrong with the previous two teams. month.

Premier League champions City failed to convince Aston Villa to give up Jack Grealish, who made the arrogant playmaker Jack Grealish, who became England’s breakout star at the European Championship the most expensive player in English history. Another overriding goal is to land Tottenham striker Harry Kane.

What had always been a complicated and troublesome chase turned into a brawl over who should be held accountable instead. Kane once refused to train with Tottenham, the club he applied for as a child, in an attempt to grab the hand of Tottenham, but his brinkmanship failed. Tottenham have argued that City have failed to offer an offer that could serve as a starting point for negotiations.

That afternoon, City’s management pondered their strategy and considered why the deal didn’t materialize and how it was going. When the meeting was over and his colleagues stood up to leave, the club president, Khaldun al-Mubarak, made the last words. They were just two words: ambition and lesson. “Erling Haaland,” he said.

In just over nine months, that goal was achieved. Tuesday afternoon, at Confirm Haaland’s current club, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, has “agreed in principle” to sign a striker who has scored 85 goals in 88 appearances for one of the two most coveted strikers in world football this summer. He is considered one of the twin riders of the generation after Ronaldo, after Messi, the first footballer with Kylian Mbappe.

Of course, in reality, it didn’t take 9 months to reach any kind of agreement with Dortmund. Haaland’s contract includes a buyout clause worth around $75 million, so little has been said about where Dortmund will play next season. All Manchester City need to know is that they are willing to pay Dortmund. Haaland’s employer was not in a position to bargain.

Even more complicated was the process of convincing Haaland that it was the right next step in Haaland’s meticulously planned career. The 21-year-old may have emotional bonds with the club. His father Alfie played for Manchester City at the turn of the century and his son has no memory of spending time in Manchester, but he told The Times in 2019: A little affection for all his former teams.

But, as City know, Erling Haaland’s relentless upswing left little room for precious romance. Every step of his journey was planned with surgical – perhaps cynical – precision by his twin Sherpas. and his father.

When Haaland left his hometown team, Bryne, as a teenager, he offered an English and German team chasing after him in favor of Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg, which has both a reliable talent production line for the European major leagues and a promising future. refused. Champions League match. When he left Salzburg a year later, it was not for England but for Dortmund, a club with a track record of player development and sales and willing to set reasonable buyout clauses.

That means, of course, that Haaland could have prevented a recession, but by modern standards $75 million is pretty good value for a player designed and designed to score as many goals as possible. With the inevitable auction kicking off, the bar isn’t about who could pay the most for Dortmund, but who could have crafted the most attractive package for the player and his advisors.

To ensure the best possible results, Raiola and Alfie Haaland visited European superclubs to spark interest and ignite. Visited Real Madrid and Barcelona. Eyelashes fluttered in the ambiguous direction of Chelsea and Manchester United. There was also an affair with Bayern Munich for a while.

It was, of course, their job. Specifically, that’s what Raiola paid for to do so. He did this with amazing effect. Current estimates suggest that, taking into account Haaland’s salaries and miscellaneous fees for agents, not only is the transaction worth more than $200 million overall, but in doing so he may have invented a whole new paradigm for how agents shape players’ careers. There is.

The accepted wisdom in football was that players – to be honest – should always get money, big breaks, as soon as possible. After all, it only takes one injury to break the best plan. The passion of one summer may come to mind later in the next summer. Clubs are fickle and everything has an expiration date.

Raiola overturned it for Haaland, in favor of a delayed gratification policy instead. He wasn’t chasing a noticeable transfer fee. He probably did with other clients, Paul Pogba — But rather slowly building the client’s appeal a bit more slowly, allowing him to gradually leap into one of Europe’s elite teams, as well as an advantage for the player (and his representatives). The club that took possession of his contract at that point.

City’s offer is a reward. It is not a transfer without precautions. Manager Pep Guardiola has worked with some of the best strikers of the modern era, but he hasn’t always been successful. He spent six years at City painstakingly fine-tuning the system, but had to completely retune it for Haaland. But sometimes football is a surprisingly simple game. When a high-scoring player joins a team that creates a lot of chances, they should really only get one result.

But whether that’s the final reward is another matter. Around the same time City was preparing for the announcement, Mbappe was busy. photo of having lunch in madrid. His contract at Paris Saint-Germain expires in a few weeks, and despite the plethora of offers to stay, he looks set to move to Real Madrid this summer. The financing of the deal will probably undercut what Manchester City has to offer for Holland.

This is the logical next step in the model pioneered by the Raiola and Haaland family. This is a reflection of the financial realities of football. There is no price point where City or PSG feel they should sell their players. There is only one option left – fulfilling the contract and jumping into the free market.

That’s the challenge the City awaits somewhere down there. This time, they won by convincing Haaland, the first true plug-and-play superstar. Who is considered a franchise player but never mentioned, this was the best of his next steps. The problem for a player who planned his career so coldly and ruthlessly is that it is also his last career.

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