Thursday, April 25, 2024

Can Real Madrid or Barcelona bully Manchester City into Haaland sale?

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In the last couple of days, the members of the Spanish press have been working hard on stories linking Manchester City’s Erling Haaland first with Real Madrid, and then Barcelona.

These stories always come with a sense of confidence, arrogance even, from the two Spanish giants, fueled by the ever-present prerogative that every player in the world wants to play for either Real Madrid or Barcelona. In most cases, it has proven true. The histories of these two clubs and their significance in world football are impossible to ignore.

Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti reportedly rejected the advances of Real Madrid to establish themselves as icons at Liverpool and AS Roma, respectively, and Marco Reus and Daniel Agger allegedly refused to join Barcelona at the peak of their powers.

But such examples are rare indeed. Try as they might, Liverpool couldn’t hold on to Luis Suarez or Philippe Coutinho when Barcelona came calling, just like Toni Kroos moved to Real against the wishes of Bayern Munich. It also happened with Robert Lewandowski, a long-shining star for the Bavarians before his move to Barcelona. Bayern are now worried about losing Alphonso Davies to Real, and Paris Saint-Germain have already lost the battle for Kylian Mbappe to Los Blancos.

On the other hand, under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have proven they can be every bit as good as Real on the pitch, better even, and keep top players in their ranks through their best years. They’re certainly powerful enough to offer players more lucrative contract terms than either of the Spanish giants, and it’s not very realistic to expect the 115 charges they’re facing on that front to have any long-lasting effect on their status, even if proven true.

Real and Barcelona will always have their history and tradition to lord over City, but it’s questionable if that power can be used to lure Haaland, the player whose father spent three years with the current Premier League champions, before taking an injury-forced career break.

In any case, Haaland’s contract with City has three years left to run, and the reports of a fabled “release clause valid only for Real Madrid” that occasionally come from Spain are yet to be confirmed by any reliable source in England.

But all that aside now, the moment that the Spanish outlets have picked to put these stories out there is probably indicative of their reliability. Real welcome City to the Santiago Bernabeu on April 7th for the first leg of their clash in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and the rematch is set to take place at the Etihad eight days later.

Real played the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, and the reports about Mohamed Salah potentially leaving the Reds for Los Blancos that summer flourished in the month that preceded the infamous game in Kiev. They understandably got quiet after Sergio Ramos injured the Egyptian during the game, but that controversy didn’t stop them from resurfacing ahead of the final in 2022 between – Real and Liverpool.

All things considered, it doesn’t seem very likely for Real to make any serious effort to sign Haaland in the near future, and the stories about their alleged interest are probably devised by the 14-time European champions themselves in order to try and cause some friction within the enemy camp ahead of the showdown.

Will it work? We’ll find out in about three weeks, but the main point here is – unless something unexpected happens to trigger a chain of events in a certain direction, Haaland probably won’t be leaving Manchester City, neither for Real Madrid nor Barcelona, any time soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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