Rumour Has It: Man City's Haaland set for Barcelona or Real Madrid switch

By Sports Desk February 15, 2023

Erling Haaland's long-term future has been a source of speculation for months and reports of a release clause in mid-2024 in his Manchester City contract have put Barcelona and Real Madrid on high alert.

The Norwegian was pursued by a host of clubs last off-season, with City winning the race ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Haaland has since scored 25 Premier League goals in 21 appearances and 31 in all competitions after joining City.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR SPANISH SWITCH NEXT YEAR

Erling Haaland has decided he wants to leave England for Spain next year when the release clause in his City contract can be activated, reports Fichajes.

The report claims Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two viable options for Haaland, who will exit City at the end of the 2023-24 season, with playing in Spain a dream for the 22-year-old.

City's potential sanctions for alleged breaches of the Premier League's financial rules have also played a part in Haaland believing mid-2024 is the right time to leave.

 

ROUND-UP

- Big-spending Chelsea are set to join the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, reports The Telegraph. Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid are already keen on the 19-year-old England international.

- Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have "genuine interest" in a move for Roma's English striker Tammy Abraham in the next transfer window.

- Barcelona's Ansu Fati will resist overtures from Tottenham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich to remain with the Blaugrana, reports Mundo Deportivo.

- AS reports Tottenham will turn to Sevilla's Morocco international goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in their search for a long-term successor to Hugo Lloris.

- Leicester City have ramped up talks with James Maddison on a new contract amid interest from Newcastle United, Arsenal and Tottenham, claims The Telegraph.

- FotoSpor claims Turkish club Fenerbahce have reached out to Manchester United about signing Mason Greenwood, who is under club investigation despite criminal charges being dropped against him recently.

- Calciomercatoweb reports Massimiliano Allegri could leave his position as Juventus head coach to replace Roberto Mancini in Italy's top job.

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    "I enjoy the practices and the day-to-day, the games. There's a bit of fear that it's all ending. It's always there. It was a difficult step leaving Europe to come here [Miami].

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    Messi is Barcelona's all-time top scorer with 672 goals, as well as lifting four Champions League trophies amid a glittering career.

    Yet the ageing forward insists World Cup glory in 2022 remains his crowning moment, following in the footsteps of late Albiceleste great Diego Maradona.

    "Obviously, I was sad that he couldn't experience what we experienced [winning the 2022 World Cup], because I know what he felt for the national team and what he would say about Argentina being world champion again," he added.

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  • The Numbers Game: Euro 2024 hosts Germany aim to get off to a flying start against Scotland The Numbers Game: Euro 2024 hosts Germany aim to get off to a flying start against Scotland

    Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday as Germany take on Scotland in Munich, and a flying start is on the agenda for Julian Nagelsmann's team.

    Scotland, in their fourth appearance at the European Championships, would probably have been hoping for an easier start than going up against the hosts in the tournament's opening match.

    Steve Clarke's team qualified in second place, behind Spain and ahead of Erling Haaland's Norway, from their group.

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    But in Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, Leroy Sane, Kai Havertz and Borussia Dortmund's Niclas Fullkrug, Germany have an exciting attack, while Toni Kroos will anchor the midfield before he heads off into retirement.

    This is Nagelsmann's first major tournament as head coach. Jupp Derwall was the last Germany boss to win a major tournament with them at the first attempt (Euro 1980).

    Here, we use Opta data to preview the Euro 2024 opener.

     

    What's expected?

    It's no surprise to see that Germany are the overwhelming favourites to win this match, with Opta's supercomputer ranking their chances of victory at 58 per cent. 

    Germany and Scotland are facing each other for the third time at a major tournament. Germany won the two previous encounters, in the group stages of the 1986 World Cup (2-1) and Euro 1992 (2-0). 

    Indeed, Scotland have won only one of their last 13 matches against Germany (D4 L8); it was in April 1999, with Don Hutchison scoring the only goal in a Bremen friendly (0-1).

    After losing to Turkiye and Austria, Germany have gone unbeaten in their last four matches. That being said, they were not particularly impressive in their warm-up matches. 

    Following a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, Germany beat Greece 2-1 last time out, though they mustered a disappointing 0.88 expected goals (xG), in contrast to their opponents' 2.14.

    The scoreline is the statistic that matters at tournaments, with Havertz grabbing an equaliser midway through the second half before Pascal Gross secured a late victory, but it should give Scotland some hope, even though they are handed just a 21 per cent win likelihood, with the draw threat also at 21 per cent.

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    Home hopes

    This is the fourth time that Germany are sole hosts of a major international tournament, reaching the final four in each of the previous three editions: champions at the 1974 World Cup, semi-finalists at Euro 1988 and third place at the 2006 World Cup.

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    Wirtz scored 11 goals and added 11 assists during Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga title-winning campaign to claim Player of the Season honours in Germany's top tier.

    Musiala, meanwhile, scored 10 goals from an xG of 7.9 in the league.

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    Will it finally be Muller time? 

     

    At the other end of the pitch, though, Germany do have some issues. On paper, Jonathan Tah, Nico Schlotterbeck and Antonio Rudiger are a fine trio to choose from in the centre of defence, while Joshua Kimmich can play at right-back, but Nagelsmann needs to make sure the team's defending is better than it was against Greece. Perhaps Hummels' experience would have been useful?

    Germany have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major international tournaments. The last time they kept a clean sheet was against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

    Fourth time lucky?

    This is Clarke's second major international tournament as a manager, after Euro 2020. He is the first Scotland boss to lead the team into two consecutive Euros.

    Scotland have never reached the knockouts of the Euros in any of their three previous appearances at the tournament.

    They have won just two of their nine Euro matches, with those victories coming over CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) in 1992 and Switzerland in 1996. Scotland have failed to score in six of their nine games at the European Championships.

    While Germany are one of the toughest possible opponents to face first up, if Scotland could get something from this match, then they would be in a great position ahead of meetings with Hungary and Switzerland.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Germany – Toni Kroos

    Kroos' presence in midfield will be a major boost to a team that averaged 59.3 per cent possession at Euro 2020 – second only to Spain (66.8 per cent).

    The 34-year-old came out of international retirement to feature for Germany in their home tournament, though of course, it will now mark the final competitive event of his career.

    Kroos – who won his sixth Champions League with Real Madrid this month – played more line-breaking passes (214) and passes leading to final-third entries (69) than any other player in UEFA's flagship club competition in 2023-24.

    Scotland – Scott McTominay

    A strong defence helped get them through qualifying, with a sprinkling of quality from McTominay, who was the top scorer in qualifying Group A with seven goals – one more than Manchester City superstar Haaland managed for Norway.

     

    McTominay's goal tally is the joint most by a Scottish player in a Euros/World Cup qualifying campaign, along with Steven Fletcher (Euro 2016) and McGinn (Euro 2020).

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    Motta's first senior managerial role at Genoa in 2019 ended after two months, but he bounced back by steering Spezia to Serie A safety in his only full season in charge before moving to Bologna. 

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