How Jesse Lingard could hold the key to Man Utd’s Erling Haaland pursuit

Paul Macdonald
How Jesse Lingard could hold the key to Man Utd’s Erling Haaland pursuit

Erling Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in world football at the moment, with Manchester United hoping to conclude a deal for the prolific forward this summer.

The Norwegian international chose Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund over the Red Devils just 18 months ago when he departed RB Salzburg in a £17 million move, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still determined to bring his compatriot to the Premier League this time around.

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Since joining the German giants, Haaland has been in imperious form. Forty-seven strikes in just 48 games for BVB has attracted the attention of the continent’s top teams, including the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City, though it’s United who continue to court the 20-year-old the closest.

However, it’s going to take an astronomical figure to prize the highly sort after forward away from the Signal Iduna Park in the upcoming window. Haaland has a release clause, thought to around £70m, inserted into his contract, but that doesn’t come into play until the summer of 2022.

Therefore, any side that intends to take him away from Dortmund after the current campaign has concluded will likely have to pay well over £100m for his services, a fee that is out of reach for most – if not all – clubs in this financial climate.

At a recent press conference (via The Mirror), Solskjaer addressed the impact that COVID-19 could have on United’s transfer plans: “There are going to be less and less transfers happening with all these changes. The lack of income, the finances has affected everyone. We have to be realistic and responsible in the way we do business on and off the pitch,” he said.

“There are improvements on the training ground, the stadium — we have to look at the whole picture. Where can we spend money? And how much is there? It’s just the real world now.”

So where does Lingard come in?

To raise such a figure, United are going to need to offload several of the fringe players in Solskjaer’s first-team squad. David de Gea or Dean Henderson could be crucial in this respect, alongside the likes of Phil Jones and Juan Mata, although it’s Lingard who is likely to attract the most attention.

The 28-year-old is enjoying a renaissance under David Moyes at West Ham United after joining the Hammers on a short-term loan deal in January. Four goals and two assists in just six league starts at the capital club has earned Lingard an England recall as Gareth Southgate named his latest Three Lions squad earlier in the week.

Despite the fact that Lingard will be entering the final year of his contract come the end of the season, the attacking midfielder would still demand a sizeable fee in the region of £20m, and it could form a sizeable chunk of the transfer chest that United will need in order to finally bring Haaland to the club.