It has been revealed that scouts from Arsenal and Liverpool both travelled to watch Erling Haaland as a youngster but misjudged his playing style and turned their back on him. The Norwegian is now a Ballon d’Or winner in waiting at Manchester City.
Haaland has scored 10 goals in six Premier League appearances so far for Pep Guardiola’s side, putting to bed doubts that he would need time to adjust to life in England. The striker was signed this summer for a fee in the region of £63million, and if he can deliver European trophies to the Etihad Stadium then he will be worth every penny.
However, it could have been a completely different story for Haaland if those who travelled to scout him at Molde as a teenager when he was just breaking into the first team were more thorough in their analysis. John Vik, the ex-Molde chief scout, told The Athletic that numerous clubs were made aware of Haaland but profiled him as a target man, so consequently opted not to sign him.
He explained: “I think they (the English scouts) looked at him as a target man because he was so big. I kept telling them, ‘He’s not a target man – if you’re going to judge him that way, you’re going to be disappointed’.
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Manchester United were also made aware of Haaland’s emerging talent, with then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calling the club to let them know that he felt they had a top prospect on their hands. Like any ‘could have, would’ve, should’ve’, whether Haaland would have developed as he has by making the jump from Molde to the Premier League so early in his career remains unknown.
The 22-year-old made 48 appearances for the Norwegian side before joining Salzburg, where his electric form in the Champions League caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund – amongst others – and the rest is history.
If he can continue in his red-hot form and avoid his free-scoring spell from being a ‘purple patch’ – which is unlikely – then he would certainly enter the conversation as one of the best No 9’s the league has ever seen, much to the disappointment of those who missed out on him previously.