Forget Haaland! Leipzig ace Openda is Real Madrid's No9 answer
The Belgian sharpshooter arrived from Ligue 1 runners-up RC Lens in the summer for a club-record €38.5 million. In Saxony's largest city, Openda has hit like a bomb, forming one of the deadliest partnerships in the Bundesliga with fellow summer arrival Xavi Simons.
With 14 goals in 21 games, Openda has quickly established himself as one of the best in the business in Germany's top flight. Unsurprisingly, clubs who were already on his tail in the summer are being credited with renewed interest in his services. The likes of Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool have all been said to be keeping an eye on the 23-year-old.
Yet, none of those clubs would represent a particularly attractive transfer option for the Belgian, according to data experts SciSports. Instead, Real Madrid would be the destination best suited to him - and a deal would make sense.
Openda a bargain Haaland?
On the face of it, there are no real similarities between Lois Openda and Erling Haaland, Real Madrid's number one option for the vacant number nine position (not counting Kylian Mbappe, who prefers playing on the left wing). Compared to the towering machine that is the Norwegian, Openda is a much more diminutive and nimble striker.
But in light of Jude Bellingham's mind-boggling form, that kind of striker is perhaps exactly what Los Blancos need. The Englishman has shown that things can work well without a forward who needs and wants to be the focal point of all the attacking action. There is a decent argument to be made that signing Haaland would limit Bellingham's influence in the final third (which is obviously fine if Haaland scores 50 goals every season).
Openda, on the other hand, has already shown that he is happy sharing the spoils of war with the players around him. The Belgian can combine well with his teammates and doesn't need to be the centre of attention at all times. Moreover, he would be a much, much cheaper option.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a steep increase in transfer valuation in recent times and currently sits at an Estimated Transfer Value (eTV) of €47 million. This makes him comparatively affordable compared to Haaland, though Leipzig would obviously demand a lot more in 2024.
However, it is unlikely that the German side would be able to block a deal and keep hold of him if he were to want a move next year. After all, Lens had no intention of selling him in the previous summer and he still forced through a transfer.
In 2025, an €80m release clause will become active in his deal. That would still make him much cheaper than Haaland. In 2024, the Norwegian will have an exit clause of €200m; in 2025, one worth €175m. Openda could be a viable alternative.