Manchester City have entered the race for Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Haaland and recently hosted the forward’s father, Alf-Inge, at the Etihad for their victory against Atalanta in the Champions League.
The 19-year-old is considered one of the hottest properties in Europe after scoring an incredible 26 times in 18 appearances for Salzburg this term and is the leading scorer in this season’s Champions League with seven goals.
The teenager joined the club from Norwegian side Molde, where he was given his debut by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Inevitably, that’s led to reports that United are keen on signing the striker but there is truth in the speculation, with Solskjaer dispatching his most trusted scout, Simon Wells, to watch over Haaland in recent months.
But United will face fierce competition for Haaland and Metro.co.uk can reveal City have launched a charm offensive for the striker’s signature by hosting his father at last month’s 5-1 win against Atalanta at the Etihad.
Alf-Inge spent three years at the club during his playing days but has rarely returned in recent years. His focus now is on guiding his son through his career by ensuring he fulfills his potential and he’s believed to have visited a clutch of Premier League clubs in recent months, including United and Arsenal.
City won the game with ease thanks to a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling and a double from Sergio Aguero but the club are in the market for a long-term replacement for the Argentine due to fears over Gabriel Jesus’ future.
The Brazilian was signed in 2017 as understudy to Aguero but he expected to oust the Argentina international as first choice after his first full season at the club. However, Aguero’s maintained his sensational strike rate and City fear Jesus is unwilling to wait much longer for a starting berth, especially given interest from Bayern Munich.
Jesus’ struggles may well impact Haaland’s decision but he has a stream of influential advisers around him. The teenager is represented by Mino Raiola and the youngster leans heavily on the advice of his father and his opinion is likely to be influential as he weighs up his options to leave Salzburg.
The Austrian club are seeking around €100m (£86m) for Haaland and Alf-Inge recently suggested his son’s next move would be to a Premier League club.
‘At one stage he would like to play in the Premier League, but when that will happen, I don’t know. It is a very tough league,’ Alf-Inge recently told talkSPORT.
‘Up to now he is ahead of the stage we thought he would be at. He is built for the Premier League, but whether that will happen now or at a later stage, we don’t know.
‘He is at Red Bull, a fantastic club playing Champions League so in a way he is in no hurry’.
Erling was a Leeds and Manchester City fan in his youth due to his father’s connections with the club.
Alf-Inge also had a long-standing feud with United legend Roy Keane but he insists it would not deter his soon from moving to Old Trafford.
‘It is important to distinguish between being a supporter and a job,’ continued Haaland.
‘So I have a very relaxed relationship with that. It’s a little different when it’s serious. Yes, I think most players dream of being in the Premier League at one time or another.
‘It’s the league that gets the most attention around, and it has very good quality teams. There is no doubt the Premier League is attractive to him.’
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