Steve McManaman, the former Real Madrid star, believes suggestions that Erling Haaland is destined to join Los Blancos when his Manchester City contract expires are unrealistic and bizarre.
Haaland, who has taken the footballing world by storm since bursting onto the scene with Red Bull Salzburg, will lead the City attack against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final this evening.
While the matchup between the Norwegian striker and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema is a mouth-watering prospect, claims that Haaland’s move to the Bernabeu is a foregone conclusion are premature, according to McManaman.
The ex-Liverpool winger said: “To have your future path mapped out for you like that is strange. I’ve no idea if any club can afford him going off what he’s supposed to be paid. We can only talk about now.”
Should City complete an unprecedented treble this season with Haaland at the forefront of their success, the 22-year-old would likely cement his status as the world’s best player.
His meteoric rise shows no signs of abating, and if he continues improving over the next few years, Haaland may opt to remain at the Etihad Stadium rather than seek pastures new, believes McManaman.
Erling Haaland to Real Madrid not guaranteed, says McManaman
While Real Madrid remains an attractive prospect and “a wonderful club” in McManaman’s eyes, he says the allure may be even more potent now than when he joined from Liverpool in 1999.
“You’ll be the king of Madrid if you play well and win well,” he said. “It’s no surprise the likes of Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo all reside in Madrid. Because it’s an incredible, beautiful city with nice weather.”
However, McManaman contends that Haaland’s future remains unwritten, and he may yet commit his long-term future to City if he’s enjoying his football and continuing his development under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.
For now, the anticipation and excitement build ahead of what promises to be an enthralling Champions League tie between two of Europe’s heavyweights. But one thing’s for sure, Haaland’s next move, whenever that may be, is anything but a foregone conclusion.