Erling Haaland has his pick of Europe’s top clubs this summer, but that may make his next step harder with the wealth of options.
The paradox of choice often confuses people. After a certain point, the brain is hampered by the potential offers, and distinguishing between each can cause a certain paralysis. The Norwegian international could presumably join any of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea - with other clubs probably tempted should they think they have a chance.
Haaland has to consider several fundamental factors: how many trophies will he win, how many games will he play, and how much money will he make? Here’s how the offers may break down.
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Real Madrid

Madrid are currently the favourites for the Borussia Dortmund man. They have the money after years on the sidelines following the coronavirus pandemic, and they are going to cut costs. Gareth Bale, Marcelo and other high-earners will be allowed to leave, while squad players who have failed to kick on will - Florentino Perez hopes - be sold to raise funds.
That ensures that even with the arrival of Kylian Mbappe on similarly enormous wages, the likely Liga champions for this year will have room to bring them both in. Mbappe and Haaland would look like the best strike partnership for the next decade, and the rest of Real’s squad has enough quality to last another year before there is serious investment elsewhere.
There is, perhaps, one wrinkle. Karim Benzema’s hat-trick against Mbappe’s side demonstrated that he remains one of the very best in the game. Mbappe and Haaland could easily play together, in theory. But Benzema, Mbappe and Haaland? That might lead to an awkward, counterproductive accommodation of a top three, or it may force one player to sit out and grow dissatisfied.
A move to Real would give Haaland, cash, glory and games in the long term, but it is not without risk in the short term.

Barcelona

Understandably, Barcelona wish to rival Real for anyone their peers want. There are obvious problems here. The arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is something of an admission that there is a good chance they won’t be able to attract Haaland or a big name, and also with his free transfer, it also suggests that really the financial restrictions at the Camp Nou are no closer to being fundamentally resolved.

Memphis Depay (FC Barcelona)

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However, there is clearly a need for the 21-year-old. Pedri looks like an exceptional player, but none of the strikers he is working with are on his level, nor can they match their potential. Memphis Depay was a sensible purchase, another free transfer, and Ferran Torres has real quality, but the club needs a reliable, world class central striker. He would be an almost guaranteed striker.
For Haaland, Barcelona offers perhaps the biggest risk and reward. If he leads the side back to glory, he will install himself as the man capable of replacing Lionel Messi, the man who put Barcelona back on their perch. But Barcelona remain a basket case that is being turned around, with no guarantee of success. If he gets the move wrong, Haaland may lose at least two years of his career. If he wants to match the achievements of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Robert Lewandowski, he does not have those years to waste.

Manchester City

City have needed a central striker for a year, since the departure of Sergio Aguero. They were unwilling to spend more than £100 million on Harry Kane, and understandably so, but for Haaland, the finances are a little different. City have had an extra year to save up for a huge transfer, and they also know that while Kane might have given them four years, maybe less, Haaland could go on for a decade - perhaps longer.

Pep Guardiola

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The current champions can also offer something unique, which is the chance to work with the world’s best coach. We all know that Haaland is an exceptional striker, ruthless and full of brawn, but the rest of his game is yet to catch up. There are no dreadful weaknesses in his game, but if he has the chance to improve and refine with Pep Guardiola, he could pull ahead from Mbappe, his likely challenger for individual honours for the coming season.
If Haaland were to join City then he might find it easier to collect a regular supply of domestic trophies, but at some point the failure of Guardiola to win the Champions League again could soon become a reasonable concern. But there are players who have gained Guardiola’s trust only to find themselves on the sidelines if they cannot perform exactly to his specification. There is a question that is still to be asked of Haaland, which is how he deals with a situation where he is not comfortably the most important player at the club. He does not appear to want for ego.

Paris Saint-Germain

The main thing that the French team can offer the player is money. They have just as deep pockets as Manchester City, and they will be desperate. Haaland has the most leverage to negotiate with the Qatari-owned side.
If Mbappe moves to Real as expected, then there is a huge need for a new superstar to arrive to save face. Lionel Messi as a teammate would be a huge draw, given there are perhaps only one or two more seasons before he will be in European football. Neymar is a devastating player too, but Haaland would be their most devastating forward.

Kylian Mbappé

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While the insults of a farmers’ league are over the top, Ligue 1 would allow Haaland the chance to score at perhaps more than a goal a game for a couple of seasons, and would not stop him from moving to an even bigger side in a couple of years. But there are problems. Leonardo appears to be losing authority as his transfer strategy has cost hundreds of millions, amassed superstars, but delivered little to a worldwide audience, which is what the owners really want to reflect soft power - something that is clearly ever more important in the context of recent world events.
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