Haaland representatives visit Barca, Madrid for talks

Erling Haaland’s representatives have visited Barcelona and Madrid for talks.

Agent Mino Raiola and Alf Inge, the father of Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland, initially landed in Barcelona ahead of a meeting with Joan Laporta, who was elected as Barca president last month.

Raiola and Alf Inge Haaland then flew to Spain’s capital for further talks with Real Madrid.

The talks increase speculation over Haaland’s future, although it is unclear how Barcelona would finance a deal with the club wrestling with huge debt, caused largely by the coronavirus pandemic.

Haaland, 20, is under contract at Dortmund until 2024 but has a reported €75m (£66m) release clause, which comes into effect in the summer of 2022.

Getty - Mino Raiola
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Mino Raiola, pictured, and the striker’s father, Alf Inge Haaland were picked up at Barcelona airport by members of Joan Laporta’s team

A host of top clubs have been linked with a move for the Norwegian, including Manchester City.

Haaland has become one of Europe’s biggest names after scoring 48 goals in his first 48 games for the Bundesliga side, after joining from Red Bull Salzburg for just £17m at the end of 2019.

Could Barcelona afford Haaland deal?

Erling Haaland celebrates scoring for Borussia Dortmund vs Sevilla
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Barcelona have made first contact with Haaland’s representatives

Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero:

“Mino Raiola and Haaland’s father Alf-Inge arrived at 9.30am in the morning at El Prat Airport in Barcelona and he was picked up by Joan Laporta’s chauffeur and he took them in the car to the Camp Nou. They were there in a meeting for two hours with Laporta. The club has recognised this meeting as a first contact and as an approach.

“It’s a good question [whether Barcelona can afford Haaland], because we have to remember that in the next two months until June, they have to pay €730m owing to a huge debt they have of more than €1bn.

“They presented an audit a few days ago which recognised they would have losses of €350m for this season. Next season, they will remain in red figures for certain. Counting on keeping Lionel Messi while signing one huge player like Kylian Mbappe or Haaland, they could have green numbers but not until the 2022/23 season.”

A game of transfer roulette…



Thierry Henry on MNF




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Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher debate whether Kylian Mbappé or Erling Haaland would be the best replacement for Sergio Aguero at Manchester City.

Analysis from Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth:

“The games have begun.

“A few months before the transfer window opens and we are talking about Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, and dare I say it, sorry Tottenham fans, but we are talking about Harry Kane as well.

“Let’s rewind back to January 2020, Borussia Dortmund paid RB Salzburg £20m for Erling Haaland and the strategy and the intention of Dortmund when they bought him was to keep him at the club until the summer of 2022 at the very least.

“Why the summer of 2022? That’s when Haaland’s release clause kicks in and his release clause is believed to be around £70m, but there are some reports suggesting it could be closer to £100m, potentially.

“I know Dortmund thought Haaland was good, but I don’t know whether they thought he was going to be this good. He’s a goal a game goal machine. As a result, nearly every big club in Europe wants Erling Haaland to play for them. He is the most sought-after striker alongside Mbappe and potentially Kane as well.

“What it all means is this summer, Borussia Dortmund can ask for what they want for Haaland and the number that’s being banded around at the moment is around 150m euros. That’s around £130m.

“However, the feeling that I am getting from Germany and our colleagues at Sky in Germany is that Haaland staying for one more year, until the summer of 2022, is seen to be more valuable to Borussia Dortmund than a potential increase in the transfer fee because there could be a huge discrepancy between what they could get this summer and what they can get next summer.”

‘Haaland transfer could be impacted by Sancho move’



Dortmund's Erling Haaland, 2nd left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match between Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Angel Fernandez)




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Dharmesh Sheth reports the latest surrounding the future of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, and says an exit for Jadon Sancho could see the Norwegian stay in Germany for another season.

Sheth added: “Add to that, there is another issue. His name is Jadon Sancho. The smart money in Germany is that Sancho will be the one who departs Dortmund this summer.

“From a Borussia Dortmund perspective, I think it is unthinkable, but you cannot rule it out, that Haaland and Sancho would leave in the same transfer window.

“Now, this all represents a bit of a conundrum for Dortmund because if they decide to keep Haaland this summer, yes, they have him another season but they also lose out on Tens of millions of pounds in a transfer fee because they’ll be forced to sell him for £70m, which is his release clause next summer. Whereas they can get what they want for him now.

“If they decide to keep Sancho this summer then this time next year, he will be entering the final year of his contract. So, the £108m they were quoting to Manchester United last summer, they simply won’t be able to ask for that figure for him next time.

“Another factor, Dortmund are four points off the top four in Germany. Champions League qualification is huge for them and they don’t qualify for the competition next season, what will Haaland be thinking? What will Sancho be thinking? What will Dortmund be thinking?

“Will they need to cash in? Will Haaland and Sancho say to themselves, we need to agitate for a move because we want to be playing Champions League football?”

Who wants Haaland?



Erling Haaland scored his 19th goal of the Bundesliga season against Bayern Munich on Saturday




1:56

Pep Guardiola believes Erling Haaland is one of the best strikers in the world as he hailed the talent within the Borussia Dortmund squad, after drawing the German side in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Sheth said: “I see this as a bit of a transfer roulette at the moment. Who wants to sign Erling Haaland? Who doesn’t? Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich, they are all in for him. They’d all be interested in signing him.

“The next question is who can afford him? The number of clubs goes down. Then, the roulette comes into play this summer. Is a club willing to go into the market and pay upwards of £130m to blow everyone else out of the water because if they don’t, summer of 2022 they know there is a release clause and then you are going to have seven or eight of the biggest clubs in Europe all vying for the signature of Erling Haaland.

“The games have begun and I think we are going to be talking about Haaland for the next two or three months, throughout this transfer window and right up until Deadline Day, but one thing to bear in mind here is Borussia Dortmund are very stubborn.

“Remember what they did with Jadon Sancho. They wanted £108m by a certain date and if it doesn’t happen, he’s not getting sold, and they stood by their word. What they’ve said here is that it is our intention to keep Haaland until eh summer of 2022, but money talks. 150m euros could be the money that talks.”

Could Haaland head to England?

On the Pitch to Post podcast, Jasper Taylor was joined by Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth and skysports.com’s Gerard Brand to discuss the options, and likelihood of Haaland leaving in the coming months.



Erling Haaland scored his 19th goal of the Bundesliga season against Bayern Munich on Saturday




0:53

Former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong believes Haaland will be on the club’s list of targets to replace Sergio Aguero

The Raiola factor

Dharmesh Sheth on the Pitch to Post podcast:

“Man City would be an interesting move. The reports earlier this month were that the frosty relationship between Raiola and Pep Guardiola would not prevent a deal going through. The relationship was soured back in 2010 when Raiola took issue to the way Guardiola was dealing with one of his clients, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while at Barcelona.

“Raiola described Guardiola as a ‘coward’, ‘a dog’ and a ‘zero person’ but those hostilities apparently won’t stop a deal being done.

“But we talk about Manchester City and Raiola, but we must remember Manchester United have Paul Pogba in their squad, another Raiola client. Raiola has already spoken out about Pogba in the past wanting to leave, as we know. I don’t think what he previously said would have gone down too well with Manchester United.”

To hear more, download the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast on your provider



Norway and Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is a transfer target for Europe's top clubs.




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Haaland will be a better long-term investment for Manchester City than Harry Kane, according to former Tottenham and Norway goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt

Where does he fit in?

Gerard Brand on the Pitch to Post podcast:

“Where does he fit in? The answer to that is simple: he fits in anywhere. We talk a lot about potential and wonderkids – and there is plenty of potential bought and sold every summer for £50m, £60m, that’s what you pay for potential these days – but I think this is a player who comes along every five or six years, and you do everything to sign him.

“It’s hard to say who would be in pole position for this. Yes, Manchester City are running away with the league and often without a proper striker – and Pep actually said earlier this month that City are not a team with a 20-goal striker, because the goals come from everywhere. But I can’t see Pep carrying on that way, and I think he will want a forward.



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Haaland showed why he is considered by many as one of the world’s best finishers at present, with this impressive strike in Norway training. Pictures: fotballandslaget

“He also slots in nicely down the road at Manchester United because they have played with a similar centre forward in Edinson Cavani this season and seen a benefit at times. Of course, he will not be there for the long term.

“On first glance at Chelsea, you would think, ‘Where does he fit in?’ among all that attacking quality, but Timo Werner could actually operate more as a second striker or from the left, plus you would expect Giroud to leave and I am not sure Tammy Abraham can keep Erling Haaland out of a side.

“Then there’s Liverpool. They have not been shy in spending in the past – they spent a combined £150m on a defender and goalkeeper in Van Dijk and Alisson – and I am not sure we realise just how big a name Jurgen Klopp still is in Dortmund, and how that might have an impact.”

Let’

Alaba wants Barcelona or Real Madrid move

Bayern Munich defender David Alaba has cut his list of potential destinations this summer down to La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, according to Sky in Germany.

The 28-year-old Austria international is leaving Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Alaba has been a target for a number of Europe’s top clubs, but it appears his heart is set on a move to Spain.

Paris Saint-Germain recently made Alaba a lucrative offer, which he has turned down.

Premier League interest, most notably from Chelsea, also appears not to have swayed him on a move to La Liga.

David Alaba has confirmed he will leave Bayern Munich this summer
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Sky in Germany believe the race between Barcelona and Real Madrid remains close for David Alaba

Sky in Germany believe the race between Barcelona and Real Madrid remains close, despite media outlets in Spain claiming Alaba has already signed a pre-contract with Real.

His agent, Pini Zahavi, is close friends with new Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who won the election earlier this month to gain his second term at the helm.

Alaba out to ‘try something new’

Alaba took to social media last month to confirm his departure, saying: “I have made the decision to leave #FCBayern at the end of this season and try something new.

“It obviously wasn’t an easy decision – I’ve been here for 13 years and the club means a lot to me… I haven’t decided where I’m going next.”

Bayern had offered him multiple contract extensions, including a £13m-a-year deal which was rejected, but talks ceased in November.

Alaba is not expected to make a decision this month, with the final call on his future likely to come either in April or May.

His 13-year stay at Bayern has so far seen him claim nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions League crowns, and he also helped them win the Club World Cup to earn Hansi Flick’s side their sixth trophy in less than nine months.

Meanwhile, Bayern beat several Premier League clubs to the signing of RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, who will join the club on July 1.

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‘Messi back to his blistering best’

Lionel Messi is “back to his blistering best” after another record-breaking night for Barcelona, says La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter.

Messi wrote his name into the history books once again on the weekend – surpassing Xavi’s record for the most individual appearances for Barcelona in the club’s history – as he marked his 768th game in Sunday’s 6-1 win over Real Sociedad with two goals.

Messi, linked with a move to Manchester City and out of contact this summer, has now scored 663 times for Barca, the most ever by a player for one club after he passed Brazil legend Pele’s record of 643 for Santos earlier this season.

He is comfortably La Liga’s record goalscorer with 467 and is also second all-time in the Champions League, with 120 to his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s 134.

Messi has won Spain’s Pichichi trophy, for the league’s top scorer, on seven occasions and top-scored in the Champions League six times, including 2014-15 when he shared the honour with Ronaldo and Neymar.



Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts after a missed a penalty




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Joan Laporta pledges to do everything within his power to keepMessi at Barcelona after being sworn in as the club’s new president

Asked if people were becoming desensitised to Messi’s greatness, La Liga expert Hunter told Sky Sports News: “No, I should think not! We are enjoying every moment of it. He is back to his blistering best once again.

“It is another day in the extraordinary life of the Argentine. He has had such an incredible run of form since the start of 2021. He has scored or assisted in every single league game.

“You just never tire of seeing it, apart from that huge smile and the way he celebrates with his team. It wasn’t one landmark he reached last night – it was several.

“He’s now scored 467 goals – the most in a single European league. It’s been lovely to see. Barcelona are playing their best football in a long time.”



Lionel Messi




1:19

Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero explains the significance of Messi voting in Barcelona’s presidential election

Messi’s 2011-12 season, when he scored 73 times in 60 games for Barca in all competitions, remains an astonishing high watermark. He has passed 50 on five other occasions, with four more campaigns in the 40s and over 30 in every completed season since 2008-09 – a mark he is on the verge of repeating, with 29 in all competitions so far this term.

Messi has won 33 major trophies with Barca, when including domestic and European super cups and the Club World Cup in that definition.

They have won La Liga in 10 of the 17 seasons since he broke into the first team, with six Copa del Rey triumphs and four domestic doubles along the way.

Seven Supercopa wins boost Messi’s total to 23 honours in Spain – Barca have won eight in that time, but he did not play in the two-leg 2005 win over Real Betis.

He has added another 10 continental or inter-continental successes, with Barca winning the Champions League in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015 and adding both the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup after the latter three of those.

Messi has also won the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best player, on six occasions including four in succession from 2009 but his domestic successes are in stark contrast to his barren trophy cabinet with Argentina, which contains just an Olympic gold medal from 2008.

Messi has scored 48 hat-tricks for Barca, including 36 in La Liga, with another six for Argentina taking him through the half-century mark for his career as a whole.

He has scored four goals on six separate occasions – in league games with Valencia, Espanyol, Osasuna and twice against Eibar, plus a Champions League win over Arsenal in 2010. He also recorded one five-goal haul in Europe, against Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 second leg in 2012 as Barca won 7-1 and 10-2 on aggregate.

Valencia have been on the receiving end of four of Messi’s hat-tricks, with three each against Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Osasuna, Espanyol and Deportivo La Coruna.

He has also scored twice in a game on an additional 133 occasions with a record 95 of those coming in LaLiga, following his efforts over the last week.

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Laporta vows to work to keep Messi at Barcelona

Joan Laporta has pledged to do everything within his power to keep Lionel Messi at Barcelona after being sworn in as the club’s new president, and has also told coach Ronald Koeman he has the club’s backing.

Laporta, who was previously Barca president between 2003 and 2010, was voted in by club members last weekend but had to secure a €125m bank guarantee before being inaugurated.

Now in office, one of his first tasks is convincing Messi, who turns 34 in June, to extend his contract, which expires the same month, beyond the end of the season.

Messi, who wanted to leave last summer, voted in last Sunday’s election and was seated in front of Laporta as he made his speech at Camp Nou on Wednesday in front of around 300 invitees.

Joan Laporta (AP)
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Laporta has been elected Barcelona president for a second time

“I take the opportunity to say again that I will try to convince Leo (Messi) to stay with us. That is a must-do task, I will do all I can. He knows it.

“Whatever he does will be OK but we will try to make him stay because he is the best player in the history of football.

“And my apologies Leo, for saying this right here and right now, but you know of my love for you, Barca loves you a lot and if this stadium would be full when you play the next game I am sure you wouldn’t be able to leave.”

Laporta faces a daunting challenge, not only to keep Messi, but also to reverse the club’s financial difficulties.

Lionel Messi - AP
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Messi’s future at Barcelona remains unresolved

“It is true that the economic situation of the club is the source of pre-occupation for all Barca associates and us as well and that is our priority,” Laporta added.

“To turn Barca economically viable again, that is why we have a shock plan we will implement. We know how to do it, it will mean making an effort and working a lot.

“Now that we have the power to make decisions we will try to generate new sources of income. We will try to make the right decisions to reverse the current situation.”

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Messi scores double on landmark Barca appearance

Lionel Messi scored two goals on his record-equalling 767th appearance for Barcelona in a comprehensive 4-1 La Liga victory over Huesca.

The 33-year-old scored his side’s first and fourth goals as Barca climbed into second place in the table to move within four points of league leaders Atletico Madrid.

Messi matched Xavi’s all-time appearance record in the Barcelona shirt, a career which includes winning 34 trophies and now scoring 661 goals since he made his debut in 2004, with 27 so far this season.

In typical fashion of the Argentine forward, Messi put Barcelona ahead in the 13th minute.

He took a touch before unleashing a curled shot from 20 yards, which hit the underside of the crossbar before going past goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez.

Lionel Messi (Getty)
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Messi inspired Barcelona to a victory which moves them to within four points of La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid

Barcelona doubled their lead in the 34th minute with Antoine Griezmann scoring in almost identical fashion to Messi’s opener, a curled finish into the top corner.

In the final moments of the first half, Huesca were awarded a penalty on VAR review for a foul on Rafa Mir, who also dispatched the spot-kick into the corner to halve the home side’s advantage.

Messi then turned provider for Barcelona’s third, crossing from the left to Oscar Mingueza who headed the ball into the net from close range for his maiden club goal.

Oscar Mingueza (getty)
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Oscar Mingueza netted his first Barcelona goal in the win over Huesca

Huesca almost pulled another goal back when Mir found himself in the six-yard box as the ball came across the face of goal, but he mistimed his jump and the ball rebounded off his chest and over the top.

Messi completed his double at the death as he cut inside before sending another strike from outside the box into the back of the net to cap his record-levelling appearance with two goals and one assist, as Huesca remain bottom of the table and four points from safety.



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Barcelona legends pay tribute to Lionel Messi after he equalled Xavi’s record of 767 appearances for the club.

What the managers said…

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman: “I cannot say more about Leo. The level he has for many years, many games…he has equalled Xavi and on Sunday in principle, he will surpass him. He is the most important man in the history of Barca. Luckily, he is still with us.

“I’ve always said there was a lot of La Liga [matches this year]. It is difficult for any team to win matches throughout the year. The points we lost for a few weeks [were many]. We have reacted well.

“The team is confident. We cannot lose more points because we have already lost quite a few.”

Huesca manager Pacheta: “We are conceding a lot of goals. Today there are three goals, two for the squad, another that touches a defence.

“We will have to shake hands. We have played a very worthy game even though the result is disappointing. I am proud of the team.

“We have done many things that are good. We have had goal situations. We have been involved in the game. Now our fight begins. I don’t like to talk about finals but now we have to get four points more than three teams.”

Let’