The summer transfer window closed Tuesday, and despite how many players ended up shuffling between clubs around the world, the biggest stories from this window should be about those who stayed put. Harry Kane is still at Tottenham, Kylian Mbappé still plays for PSG, and Erling Haaland remains a Dortmund player. It’s that last name that’s probably going to make a lot more headlines going forward.
Last spring, Haaland’s father and agent were making the rounds, quite publicly, visiting with various super clubs around the world. Haaland’s team taking these meetings in such a showy manner indicated that the race to buy him from Dortmund was well and truly on. The question that remained was not if Haaland would leave Dortmund to take his rightful place as a crown jewel at one of the biggest clubs in the world, but when.
Given how many big teams were on the hunt for a striker this summer, there was good reason to believe that Haaland would secure his move away from Dortmund before the window closed. But a market for Haaland never really materialized. Chelsea went and smashed the piggy bank for Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United opted to bring back Cristiano Ronaldo on the cheap, and Barcelona … uhhh, well, they’re happy to just be able to pay the electric bill at this point. Not even Manchester City and Real Madrid missing out on their primary targets (Kane and Mbappé, respectively) was enough to materialize any dramatic, late bids for Big Erl. It seems that all of these big clubs have decided that the prudent thing to do is just wait until next summer, when Haaland’s suitors will reportedly be able to trigger a relatively modest (€75 million) release clause. Given that it would have cost any of those teams more than twice that amount to pry Haaland from Dortmund this summer, it makes plenty of sense for them to sit back and wait a year.
But man, what a race there will be if everyone really does decide to wait. Manchester United is reportedly keeping Haaland in their sights despite having signed Ronaldo, and they’ll be in competition with an ever-growing list of clubs. PSG will be looking to replace Mbappé, who plans on joining Real Madrid as a free agent next summer after his contract expires. Manchester City may decide that it’s not worth trying to claw a 29-year-old Harry Kane away from Tottenham after all, and turn their attention toward Haaland. Real Madrid will have Mbappé, sure, but they’ll also have all that money they tried to buy him with this summer still laying around, and oh my god could you imagine a front line featuring both Haaland and Mbappé?? Bayern Munich will definitely be looking for Robert Lewandowski’s heir apparent; Barcelona should have their finances in better shape by next year; Chelsea is always willing to throw money around; Liverpool might be looking to juice things up depending on how this season goes for them. The list just goes on and on.
However, there remains the possibility that one of the aforementioned teams will decide that they’d rather not have to compete with so many other suitors on a level playing field next summer, and try to buy Haaland for a nine-figure fee when the transfer window reopens in January. Most of the big teams don’t like to make such huge moves during the January window, but it’s not hard to imagine a team like City slogging through the first few months of the Premier League season without a real striker and deciding that there is no time to wait.
Nobody knows exactly how or when Haaland’s big move is going to happen. All we know is that the fight to snatch him up will get even more intense as time goes on. The Summer of Haaland didn’t end yesterday; it’s only just begun.