A closer look at the leading contenders for Erling Haaland's signature

With the Norwegian continuing to impress at Borussia Dortmund, Europe’s soccer powerhouses are falling over each other in their pursuit of the prodigious 20-year-old.

After securing yet another brace against Sevilla in the Champions League last week, Erling Haaland took his goal tally for the season to 38 in just 36 matches, placing him among the world's best.

And at just 20 years of age, Haaland's record-breaking career is in its infancy. With such mouth-watering potential, it's no surprise that he's the hottest property in the transfer market right now.

After moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2019, the introduction of a £68million release clause for 2022 became common knowledge. However, given his fine form, there are no shortage of teams willing to pay the asking price to secure the Norwegian in the summer.

His fine pedigree and keen eye for goal make him an attractive asset for any team with Champions League aspirations. So, with Europe's elite jostling for his signature, we take a closer look at the clubs looking to wrestle Haaland from Dortmund.

Manchester City (6/4 - via Sky Bet)

Considered favourites, Manchester City, despite walking away with the Premier League, have often lacked an out-and-out striker.

With Sergio Aguero coming to the twilight of his career and Gabriel Jesus struggling to stamp his authority on the No. 9 spot, Haaland looks to be the perfect fit for City moving forward.

Manchester City have never been afraid to flex their financial muscle in order to strengthen their grip on the Premier League trophy. And with Pep Guardiola still chasing City's first European title, Haaland may be the answer they've been looking for.

As if the prospect of trophies and the management of Guardiola wasn't enough to entice Haaland's signature, a move to City would offer the Norwegian a chance to follow in his father's footsteps. Alf-Inge made 38 appearances for the club between 2000 and 2003.

Chelsea (9/2 - via Sky Bet)

Following closely behind come a rejuvenated Chelsea. Since Thomas Tuchel's appointment, the London club have made significant strides in their pursuit of the top four.

After inheriting Frank Lampard's side, Tuchel has transformed Chelsea into a formidable unit, with their 0-0 draw against Leeds United last weekend producing their fifth clean sheet in as many games.

But at the other end of the pitch, Chelsea have struggled for goals. An out-of-form Timo Werner and an ageing Olivier Giroud mean Chelsea may have to dip into the market once more this summer.

Despite spending heavily last year on the likes of Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has publicly shown his admiration for Haaland, even stating that he is willing to break his vow of never working with Haaland's agent Mino Raiola. A claim made after the transfer of Romelu Lukaku fell through in 2017.

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But on the back of breaking the record for the fastest player to score 20 Champions League goals, Haaland will not want to miss out on the competition next season. With Chelsea currently teetering on the brink of the top four, Haaland's fate could be decided by where they finish the campaign.

Manchester United (6/1 - via Sky Bet)

Manchester United sit second in the Premier League, but with a 14-point gap between them and their cross-town rivals, Manchester City, they look a few key players away from challenging for the title.

One position troubling the Red Devils has been their striker. With Anthony Martial failing to consistently hit the net, United have recently turned to short-term signings to bolster their attack. The addition of Odion Ighalo and Edison Cavani brought depth to their forward line but with both nearing the end of their careers, neither could be relied upon for consistent appearances let alone goals.

At the tender age of 20, Haaland is the ideal long-term solution for United's striking problems. His physical presence and ability to hold up the ball could prove to be the difference as they aim to close the gap at the top of the Premier League.

But the link that most closely ties Haaland to Manchester United is his relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Haaland's breakthrough at Molde came under Solskjaer's tutelage and he has always shown his appreciation for his compatriot.

Solskjaer has often referred to Haaland as one of the best players he's ever managed, and after seeing his rise with Dortmund, the Norwegian manager seems keen to bring him to Old Trafford, finances dictating.

Barcelona (8/1 - via Sky Bet)

Following the sacking of Quique Setien, Ronald Koeman took charge of Barcelona with the task of restoring the club to the top of the tree in Europe.

One of the Dutchman's first actions was overseeing Luis Suarez's transfer to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid. But rather ironically, the Uruguayan striker hit the ground running in Madrid and his 18 goals have helped Atletico to a four-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table.

Filling the boots of Suarez at the spearhead of Barcelona's attack is a job for one of the world's best. Thankfully for the Catalonian club, Erling Haaland fits the criteria of a world-class centre forward.

But with the club reportedly facing huge financial losses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear whether Barcelona will be able to lock horns with other European powerhouses should Haaland's signature go to a bidding war.

However, regardless of Barcelona's stance on Lionel Messi remaining a key pillar of the club's rebuild, rumours continue to circulate about the legendary No. 10's future. Should Messi decide to move on, the prospect of replicating his legacy at Barcelona may be too appetising an offer for Haaland to turn down.

Real Madrid (14/1 - via Sky Bet)

Fellow La Liga giants Real Madrid are also tipped to be among the race for Haaland. With a history rich of galactico signings, it's no surprise to see their name in the frame.

With Gareth Bale seemingly enjoying his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Eden Hazard struggling to reach the heights he achieved in the Premier League, Real Madrid are yet to find a star worthy enough of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo.

While it's not unreasonable to consider Ronaldo irreplaceable, Haaland's arrogance and skill levels have resulted in comparisons between the two forwards.

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Long-serving striker Karim Benzema is now 33 years old and reaching the conclusion of his career, meaning the arrival of a striker is of paramount importance for Zinedine Zidane's side.

With Real Madrid currently falling behind rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the league table, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Los Blancos gather some reinforcements this summer. Undoubtedly Haaland is near the top of their shopping list.

Borussia Dortmund

While rumours continue to circle, it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility for Haaland to remain at Borussia Dortmund who have no financial obligation to sell their star striker this summer.

Fifth in the Bundesliga, Dortmund will be keen to bounce back next season and close the gap to Bayern Munich. Losing Haaland would be a massive blow to their chances for domestic and European success.

Additionally, while in such good form, it is possible that Haaland will want to experience another year at Dortmund before eventually moving on to a new project.

Despite a multitude of suitors, Haaland has refused to give any hints on his next move. But that won't stop the rumour mill churning as the vultures continue to circle Europe's hottest property. 

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