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United target Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hints at Haaland interest despite the presence of agent Raiola

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Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland is wanted by Europe's top clubs. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender DFL

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland is wanted by Europe's top clubs. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender DFL

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland is wanted by Europe's top clubs. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender DFL

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still keeps in touch with former charge Erling Haaland and has not ruled out a future move for the Borussia Dortmund star.

The 20-year-old striker has established himself as one of the hottest prospects in world football during goal-laden stints with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund.

Solskjaer coached Haaland – the son of his former Norway international team-mate Alf-Inge – at Molde and had hoped to persuade the frontman to link up with him again at Old Trafford last season.

But the striker plumped for a move to Dortmund in December 2019 and his agent Mino Raiola recently said only 10 clubs in the world can afford the 20-year-old, with four of those based in England.

Asked if the striker was somebody he would like to one day see at Old Trafford, Solskjaer laughed and said: “I think when you have had kids and players through as a coach, you follow them, of course, and I keep in touch with Erling."I think when you have had kids and players through as a coach, you follow them, of course, and I keep in touch with Erling.

"So it's great to see him become the player he has become and I know he'll work to improve all the time.

"He's a Dortmund player. We just wish him well there and then let's see what life will bring later on."

Pushed on Haaland, Solskjaer said: "One, you know I can't speak about Erling because he's with Borussia Dortmund and I think it's disrespectful to talk too much about it apart from that I know him and that I speak to him.

"Who wasn't interested in him a year ago? Because everyone would say you'd take the best players in the world and Erling is a top player.

"But for me and the recruitment, I think we've done well. There's a boy sat next to me here (Daniel James) who proves that as well, Bruno (Fernandes) as you say.

"I think the signings we've made since I've come to the club have all contributed and added to the squad.

"That's part of what we have to do. We have to complement what we have in our group with other different types of players and also young players.

"I'm happy with our recruitment model and the processes we go through, yeah."

Solskjaer was speaking on the eve of Thursday's Europa League round of 32 return leg against Real Sociedad, which they approach all but assured of progress after last week's 4-0 win in Turin.

A period of self-isolation means a number of his coaching staff will be absent for the second successive match, while Edinson Cavani, Donny Van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba remain sidelined through injury

A shoulder issue prevents midfielder Hannibal Mejbri from making his first-team bow in a week that has seen fellow 18-year-old Amad Diallo, signed from Atalanta in January, and 17-year-old Shola Shoretire make their debuts.

"Hannibal was injured in the reserves, he'll be out for a month," said Solskjaer, who has added 19-year-old Northern Ireland international Ethan Galbraith to United's Europa League squad.

"He was just coming into our squad. Unfortunately for him he's out.

"Amad and Shola, of course, they will be involved, they're in the squad. I'm not going to tell you if they're starting or not."

Thursday marks five years to the day since a teenager flourished under the floodlights when making his debut in the Europa League.

An injury to Anthony Martial in the warm-up saw Marcus Rashford promoted to the starting line-up against FC Midtjylland and the young forward's brace helped seal a 5-1 win and progress from the last 32 on February 25, 2016.

"He's had an incredible, incredible impact both on and off the pitch," Solskjaer said. "He's matured, grown into a real proper young man.

"He knows what it takes to be a Manchester United player on and off the pitch. He's taken responsibility on it and off it.

"I do remember a young little lad coming on, two nice goals, celebration with his team-mates in the stand.

"I think he's living proof of what we want to do at the club.

"That when you sign for Man United, whether you're five, six, 10, 14, you've got a chance to make dreams come true and long may it continue because he's got 10-15 years left in him."

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