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transfer battle Erling Haaland is the most wanted man in football...but the traditional 'big clubs' have no chance of signing him

Traditional powerhouses no longer calling the shots in Haaland bidding war


Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland

ERLING Haaland is the player every club wants this summer - but I suspect the traditional giants of European football will be blown out of the race to sign the hottest talent in football.

The Borussia Dortmund striker is the real deal in every sense of the word and if a player of his calibre emerged in the game over the last few decades, he would be destined to go to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United or Liverpool.

This has been the path all the best players have aimed to follow, but all that could be about to change as we limp out of this pandemic at a disappointingly slow pace.

The financial cost of the last year is biting hard for football clubs at all levels of the game and it might well reset the landscape of the game for years to come.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are funded very differently than the game’s established giants and with this in mind, I suspect a new era may be about to dawn.

City’s success in appealing their two-year Champions League ban was a hammer blow to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules and that verdict could be even more significant amid the ongoing pandemic.

While the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United have openly admitted they might not be able to compete for the best players in the transfer market this summer, Man City, PSG and Chelsea will see this as their biggest opportunity yet.

With those three clubs run by sugar-daddy owners who don’t care how much they spend and never have to sell players to balance the books, they will look at a player like Haaland and think they can outbid the rest to get him.

I’m sure Liverpool and United would want the Norwegian striker and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t.

At the age of 20, he is smashing in goals in the Champions League and has all the attributes you are looking for in a player who is on his way to being something special.

However, if Liverpool get into a bidding way with Man City, PSG and Chelsea for Haaland this summer, they have no chance of coming out on top.

You would like to think Haaland would want to join one of the game’s great clubs and there was a suggestion in the German media a few weeks back that he wasn’t interested in joining Chelsea for that very reason.

Yet when Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola get down to negotiating his transfer for Dortmund and the oil-rich clubs start throwing around crazy wages and agreeing to the massive up-front payment that will be demanded, Liverpool and United probably won’t have any chance.

Let’s say City or PSG offer him £500,000-a-week and give his agent untold millions as part of the signing on fee, which they are more than capable of doing.

Clubs financed by traditional means would not be able to compete with that kind of financial firepower and it means all the best players could end up at the same three clubs in the coming years.

The Abu-Dhabi backers funding Man City, the Qatari-backed PSG or Roman Abramovich at Chelsea can dip into their reservoirs of cash and pluck a few hundred million out in an instant and Haaland will be the next addition to their fantasy football game.

Meanwhile, clubs that have worked so hard to build great histories and help to grow the game over generations could left to look on as the ‘plastic’ clubs cash in (literally) on the misfortune of others.

This why I can see a scenario where Lionel Messi and Haaland end up at Manchester City or PSG this summer.

Chelsea will spend big again under new boss Thomas Tuchel and by the start of next season, they might well be the three dominant teams in European football.

Is it a bad thing for new clubs to break through and make their mark in the Champions League?

Not at all, but the three clubs threatening to take over the game are in danger of leaving the ‘fair play’ section of UEFA’s battered rule book looking more than a little redundant.

The one factor Liverpool, United and Europe’s established big clubs have on their side is a massive worldwide fanbase, which should ensure the money will start rolling in very quickly once again when this pandemic comes to an end.

Yet by the time the game’s big clubs start getting back on an even financial keel, Man City, PSG and Chelsea could have a stranglehold on the game that will be hard to shake for some time to come.

We are at the end of an enduring period that saw Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way as the two best players in European football and a new era is about to start, with stars like Haaland and Kylian Mbappe rising to the top.

If all the best players end up playing for the money at clubs built on the ambitions of super-rich owners, a game that has already been taken away from the fans in the last year will be harder than ever to identify with.

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