Tottenham and Mourinho want Haaland this summer... but does he want Spurs?
Tottenham Hotspur have been heavily linked with a move for Erling Haaland in recent days, with the Borussia Dortmund striker reportedly being Jose Mourinho’s top transfer target. But is Haaland the right fit for Spurs, and (more pertinently) is Spurs the right move for Haaland?
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Erling Haaland’s reputation has developed from hot new thing to established European superstar in less than a season, so it is little surprise to see numerous big clubs interested in making bids for the Borussia Dortmund forward.
Last season’s Champions League finalists Spurs are the latest to show an interest in Haaland. Eurosport investigate that potential transfer.
Why Spurs want Haaland
It is no secret that Spurs are short of striker options, with Mourinho bringing up the club’s lack of attacking depth more than any other topic during his time in charge.
Harry Kane is the only recognised striker in Tottenham’s first-team squad, and the England captain has struggled over the last two seasons with injury – missing large numbers of matches and taking increasingly long to get back to his top level. Bringing in another centre-forward is the club’s main transfer objective, but their style of play means it is important that a player is both a goalscoring threat and somebody who can link play and provide a physical presence – essentially replicating Kane’s role in the side.
No player in European football has a more similar style of play to peak Kane than Haaland, whose powerful driving runs, head-up possession play and physical off-the-ball style evoke memories of the young player who broke through at Tottenham back in 2014/15.
Having Haaland and Kane to rotate would give Tottenham strength in depth and also allow them to avoid continuing overplaying the Englishman across all competitions.
Why would Haaland choose Spurs?
For Haaland there are two possible attractions for joining Spurs.
Firstly, he would get to learn off one of the best in the business, a player who has won a World Cup Golden Boot and finished Premier League top-scorer in two separate seasons, doing so with a similar style of game to Haaland’s.
And secondly, the presence of Kane in the squad would take pressure off him, allowing him to continue to develop without the burden of having the club’s entire attacking game resting on his shoulders.
Harry Kane celebratesGetty Images
However, both of those factors could also be interpreted as reasons for Haaland not to join Tottenham. He has a comfortable situation at Dortmund at present, with the time to develop his game while still regularly featuring both as a starter and a replacement.
And the pressure of being a club’s talisman is something that Haaland appears to thrive on. He is a young man who does not give off the vibe of wishing to be second string.
With so many of his suitors across Europe lacking a first-choice striker, it would be a brave call to join one of the few to have a forward with a greater reputation than his. And it would also be brave to side-step to a club on a similar level to Dortmund, rather than taking the opportunity to move to one of Europe’s giants.
Is Mourinho the right manager for a rising star?
One other reason for Haaland to be hesitant about a move is Jose Mourinho.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager has tended to prefer older players throughout his career, footballers who are already the finished product rather than youngsters who require nurturing and development.
Additionally, Tottenham’s attacking style – particularly through midfield – has lacked subtlety under Mourinho, with his forwards expected to create much of the attacking opportunities for themselves. Haaland revels on having a creative supply line behind him at Dortmund, just as he did in Salzburg. This current iteration of Spurs cannot currently provide him with that, particularly with their most incisive passing midfielder, Tanguy Ndombele, ostracised by the head coach.
Yet on a base level, perhaps the opportunity to work with one of the most famous managers in the game could be an attractive proposition for Haaland?
Why would Dortmund sell?
All of these arguments bypass one key issue: Dortmund would have to want to sell Haaland.
BVB only bought the 19-year-old in January, and in his brief time at the club he has already shown his capability of lifting them back to the very top of European football.
It would take a very big offer to persuade them to let Haaland leave after just half a season (or even less than half, depending how the revamped schedule looks following the coronavirus pandemic).
That being said, the fee is one reason that selling could be an attractive proposition for the club. They brought Haaland in for a relatively low fee, a reported €22.5m plus agent add-ons, so selling him for potentially three times that amount less than a year later would be outstanding business.
But to keep Haaland could mean Dortmund achieving great short-term success with Europe’s hottest striker before selling him for a big fee down the line.
That is the balance that the Bundesliga club must weigh up.
Where have the rumours come from?
Haaland’s performances have caught the attention of the world, but his agent has made sure that attention is being converted into cash.
The infamous super-agent Mino Raiola manages the player, and it is unlikely to be a coincidence that countless stories have leaked to the media since Haaland’s arrival at Dortmund, with many focussed on an unconfirmed £63m buy-out clause.
Mino RaiolaGetty Images
Raiola personally profited enormously from Haaland’s initial move to Dortmund and was rumoured to have picked up as much as €10m in fees. The idea of a follow-up fee so soon after that payday will surely attract the “super-agent”.
It is also notable that Haaland has moved quickly from club to club, spending less than a year at Salzburg following his move from Molde.
However, in public Raiola is sticking to the line that Haaland will stay at Dortmund for some time:
" He has to continue to grow. He will stay in Dortmund for as long as is necessary. He is a great player. It is fun to watch him and see how each game develops. Nobody thought that he would adapt so well to a team like Borussia."
"It's true that he is a footballer who is anticipating the stages of growth faster than you might think,” Raoila added.
"I don't think that when he left Salzburg it was the right time, but... I don't think he'll be leaving Dortmund this summer."