Manchester United losing out on Erling Haaland completes shift of power to Man City – Daniel Murphy

Manchester United never stood a chance.

The future of Erling Haaland was shaping up to be the transfer saga of the summer, with Europe’s top clubs all readying themselves for a heavyweight clash for his signature, but Manchester City appear to have beaten them to the punch before the first bell. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and United all left in their wake.

The deal isn’t quite done yet and City are remaining cautious, but they are certainly in pole position. The Manchester Evening News understands that the club are able to meet the £63million release clause and any further add-on, with the whole deal is expected to wind up being closer to £100m, while sources in Spain and Germany say the Norwegian has agreed personal terms.

READ MORE: Man City stance on Erling Haaland amid transfer reports

Of course, the deal isn’t done until Haaland is holding the scarf aloft at the Etihad, which City know all too well after being stung in the past. But this time it feels different. With Madrid and Bayern already having top No.9s still doing excellent things, Barcelona not having the cash and Paris Saint-Germain being a circus, there really is no other logical choice than City, who need a striker. Throw in the already established emotional connection due to his father, Alf-Inge, playing for the club makes it all too perfect.

The stars have aligned for the Blues – and the Premier League, for the first time – to get one of the soon-to-be best players in the world. If he isn’t already.

Despite the Premier League largely being regarded as the world’s best division, the absolute best players in the game have never joined it while at the top of their powers. Cristiano Ronaldo left before he reached his peak, Lionel Messi sadly never arrived on these shores and Haaland, along with Kylian Mbappe, looks set to dominate the sport for the next decade – and at least a significant portion of that could be at City.

If City weren’t already the best team in the country it may well be a gamechanger. Instead, it will be a game solidifier and Pep Guardiola’s side will take some stopping for years to come with such a ruthless frontman, the one thing they’ve been lacking for the last two seasons, in the team.

Erling Haaland talks with Phil Foden

United wanted Haaland too. Of course, they did. But Old Trafford never seemed a realistic destination, even when his former mentor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the helm. It would almost be career malpractice for him to have signed at a club in such continued disarray. The coaches United have had in charge in recent years would not have made him a better player the way that Guardiola will, and there’s no guarantee that United will get their next managerial decision right either.

But even aside from that, the simple fact of the matter is that United are not a big-time concern at present and haven’t been for some time. The club’s prestige and history is still a big enough draw with a high calibre of player but not for the very best. The very best want to win trophies, want to ensure their talent isn’t wasted and leave the game with a lasting legacy.

No player has done that at United since 2013 when they last won the Premier League. There have been FA Cup and Europa League victories since then but, while meaningful in their own way, they don’t compare to the game’s biggest prizes.

City, on the other hand, is a near guarantee of winning silverware. It’s extremely difficult to see, at least with Guardiola at the helm, City not lifting multiple league titles with Haaland in the side and he may be the missing piece to finally secure the Champions League as well. Whereas it’s even harder to see United winning anything major in the coming years.

United turned down the chance to sign Haaland before he moved to Germany as they admirably didn’t want to be beholden to Mino Raiola’s demands. They may well be regretting that now.

Even though they have been in steady decline since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United had still been able to compete and even beat City for players. They got both Fred, Alexis Sanchez and, just last summer, Cristiano Ronaldo when the Blues wanted them. Even if that was purely due to offering higher fees and wages, it showed they were still on the same playing field. With how quick and decisive Haaland looks to have been secured, however, that’s no longer the case. The power shift in the city of Manchester is finally complete.

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