Manchester United are vying for the signature of Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg following his incredible performances for his side in the Champions League as well as the Austrian Bundesliga.
The 19-year-old is one of the most-sought players on the market in January due to his outstanding record in front of goal. He scored eight goals in his side’s six matches in the Champions League group stage, including a hat-trick against Genk and a brace against Napoli. It was not enough to allow Salzburg to advance to the next phase of the competition, leaving the Austrian outfit to move on in their European campaign in the Europa League.
Salzburg’s failure will make Haaland more likely to move on than had they remained in the Champions League, allowing United to pounce with the offer the same standard of European football. The connection between Solskjaer and Haaland will also play a crucial factor given that he managed the forward for two seasons at Molde, developing the Norwegian’s skills in the final third, with the United boss confirming his interest in luring his former charge to Old Trafford.
It seems a perfect fit for the player and United. The Red Devils could use a boost in their strikeforce in their bid to secure a top-four place, currently being backed in the Premier League betting odds at 4/1 to secure a Champions League place for next season. Solskjaer’s men are in need of a forward capable of supporting Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the final third. Rashford has been outstanding this season, taking the step up required to become the leading man.
Martial has had his moments, although he has also been battling injury problems. The Frenchman has struggled to find consistency to his play, which is putting pressure on his team-mate to produce on a weekly basis. Daniel James has completed the front three and has impressed, even though his goals have dried up since the early stages of the campaign.
Haaland would seemingly fit into the mix, allowing Solskjaer to rotate his options in the final third. However, the question remains whether signing a 19-year-old would stunt the progress of players emerging – notably Mason Greenwood.
At the age of 18, Greenwood has been thrust into action more than expected in a very similar vein to Rashford’s introduction into the first team. He has shown ability at the highest level, scoring two goals in the Premier League and another four in the Europa League, including a brace against AZ Alkmaar.
Should the forward remain on his current trajectory, he could be the player to provide the foil for Rashford, Martial and James in the near future. His potential could even surpass that of his three team-mates, which would be great news for Solskjaer, handing him a truly potent strikeforce without the need of spending a huge sum of money.
Signing Haaland would perhaps send the wrong signal to Greenwood and other players that are coming through the United academy. Tahith Chong is another forward that has had opportunities and may well blossom with playing time that could be restricted by the arrival of the Norwegian.
United have been patient in their approach with Solskjaer and their younger players, and it may behove them once again to wait to see how quickly the next generation develops before splashing out on a new forward.