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Haaland only has himself to blame for transfer rumours and media circus

6:30 PM IST 17/01/22
Erling Haaland Borussia Dortmund 2021-22
The superstar Borussia Dortmund forward is annoyed at speculation surrounding his future - speculation that he has fed himself

At this stage, Erling Haaland should not be surprised by the questions he gets asked after matches:

  1. Tell us about the goal(s) you scored today?
  2. Have you made a decision on your future?

But when former Norway striker Jan Age Fjortoft used the opportunity to ask him about both topics after Haaland's double against Freiburg on Friday, the 21-year-old seemed annoyed by the line of questioning.

"The last six months, I have chosen not to say anything out of respect for Dortmund," Haaland told Viaplay. "But now the club has started to pressure me into making a decision, but all I want to do is to play football.

"They press me to make a decision now about my future. So that means I have to make a decision soon.

"I have said from the beginning that I want to focus on football, because that is when I am at my best, not when other things come into my mind.

"Now they have put pressure for a while. So it is time to get things started. All I want to do is to play football, but I can't do that now."

If all Haaland wants to do is play football, though, he has gone the wrong way about doing it.

His own decisions have led to this point - where all anyone inside and outside Borussia Dortmund is focused on is Haaland's future.

When he was 17 and playing for Molde, Haaland visited Leeds with his father, Alf-Inge, to discuss a potential move to Elland Road.

Molde wanted £4 million for a player who would have joined the Leeds academy rather than the first team at the time, and West Yorkshire outfit decided not to gamble.

Soon after, super agent Mino Raiola came on the scene and brokered the deal that took Haaland to Red Bull Salzburg. Raiola had a plan for the striker's career and that plan has worked splendidly so far, making Haaland into one of the most sought-after players in world football.

But having someone like Raiola as an agent does not come without its drawbacks for Haaland.

If the 21-year-old is annoyed at the media speculation regarding his future and the pressure he is feeling at Dortmund about making a decision, he only has himself and Raiola to blame.

When Raiola talks to the media about Haaland's future, he is speaking on his client's behalf.

So when he lists potential suitors for a summer 2022 transfer, that is only because that is something he has likely spoken to his client about too.

"He can and will take the next step," Raiola told Sport1 in December. "Bayern, Real, Barcelona, ​​City - these are the big clubs he can go to. City has won the championship five times in recent years, significantly more than United.

"When we moved to Dortmund, we all knew that this step would come. Maybe this summer, maybe the summer after. But there is a great chance that Erling will leave this summer. We will see."

The language is telling: "We all knew that this step would come."

This transfer talk is not a shock for Haaland. It was part of the plan all along. The plan he signed up for when he appointed Raiola as his agent.

In the same interview, Raiola said he actually likes it when sporting directors hate him.

“I'm ready to go to war for my players. I am ready to do anything, as I would for my sons," he said.

“The sporting directors hate me? How come? I've never sat with a gun on the table in negotiations. I just know very well what value my players have and what the clubs need.

“If they hate me, then it's the biggest compliment for me. Then I'm doing something well. If they said ‘it's good that the Raiola advises the player, it'll be easy for us,’ then I'd have a problem.”

Dortmund's directors don't hate Raiola, and they were glad to do a deal with him back in December 2019. But now they want clarity on the situation.

The Bundesliga side want to convince Haaland to stay, doubling his contract and removing the transfer clause that would see him leave the club this summer.

But time is running out for all parties.

Raiola stands to make around €20m in agent's fees if a transfer happens this summer.

Dortmund are out of the Champions League this season and need to know if they can rely on Haaland to be around next year, or whether they should they start looking for a replacement.

The person affected the least by this transfer talk is Haaland himself. He will play at a big club next season and be paid more money regardless of what happens.

For now, he can keep scoring goals and let his agent do the talking for him off the pitch. That is what he signed up for.