First things first, congratulations from the Ultra United team to Erling Braut Haaland for earning the Golden Boy Award this year.
In a year full of more twists and turns than a Bollywood movie, Erling Braut Haaland is one of the very few things that we can be thankful for. After breaking onto the scene with Red Bull Salzburg in the first couple of years of his professional footballing career, he spent it coursing his way through the UEFA Champions League group stages before courting some obvious attention from the continent’s ‘big boys’.
Once that was done, it was a complete free-for-all to see who could ‘woo’ the broad-shouldered youngster to signing longer terms with their club. Wherever you looked, it was always ‘where is Haaland going to go?‘, ‘should Haaland go to Real Madrid or Barcelona’ or even ‘if only Roy Keane didn’t smash his dad’s legs in, then maybe Haaland would have a chance at signing for Manchester United’. Eventually, it was Dortmund’s famous developmental setup which turned his head, and what a wonderful decision that turned out to be for both employer and employee.
Forgetting my allegiance to Manchester United and remembering my duty as the founder of Ultra United (‘Ultra UTD’), his decision to join Dortmund instead of any of the other linked clubs was the perfect one to make. At the time of writing, they continue to work on producing one of the most precocious young squads in the world, and are shameless in exposing these lads to the reality of mature, professional football – where the likes of Jason Sancho and Giovanni Reyna lead the line in even the most serious of circumstances.
“I have five hat-trick balls in my bed and I sleep well with them. They are my girlfriends.”Erling Braut Haaland on his RB Salzburg Form
… weird flex, but okay.
In this setting, Erling Haaland was allowed to thrive – as the overall system deployed by Dortmund looked almost tailor-made to ensure that he would enjoy himself as much as possible. As a form of practise, this meant relishing in his physical and God-given talents as a typical ‘Target Man’. I mean, just look at the kid! If anybody gave you access to some research lab in the Nordics and asked you to create your ideal front-man, Erling Haaland would be produced from the 3-D printer.
He’s tall (very tall, actually), deceptively quick and has a very mature approach to decision-making for somebody so young. It takes some additional talent in the bank to do what he’s shown that he’s capable of doing. He can dink it over the ‘keeper, take it passed them, round ’em, make ’em look silly … or simply just hammer the sphere home for good measure – breaking the net and everybodys’ hearts in the process.
Simply put, the kid has everything, and even in an age as well-stocked in the youth department as today, Erling Haaland stands high and mighty among his peers. He’s a worthy ‘Golden Boy’, probably one for the record books … and almost destined to outgrow his yellow boots at Dortmund soon enough.
Going forward, unless Dortmund can enjoy the success required to keep somebody like Haaland entertained – which basically means regular late Champions League involvement and, most likely, taking the domestic reigns away from FC Bayern in the Bundesliga. Not only is this a tough task to do, bit even tougher given the time restrictions set out by Haaland’s current four-year deal – one which basically remains strong for another two seasons (MAX) before some of the regular lot come swarming with their pincers at the ready and a bargain in their view.
The fan in me would love to say that Haaland could come to Manchester United, but his allegiance to Mino Raiola and the lack of ambition at the Red Devils’ board suggests to me that this is never on the cards. Instead, with Real Madrid lacking an out-in-out striker, and their long-term admiration of Haaland, it would take a resurgence in form over the next couple of years to appear as a more viable destination for him. So yes, if I was a betting man, I’d have my money on Haaland joining Real Madrid by 2023.