Why would Haaland want to stay at continually underwhelming Borussia Dortmund?

Erling Haaland Borussia Dortmund 2021-22Getty

Barcelona legend Gerard Pique offered Erling Haaland some advice last week.

"If I were Haaland and I wanted to win the Ballon d'Or, I wouldn't move to the same team as [Kylian] Mbappe," he cheekily told Ibai Llanos on Twitch.

Mbappe, for his part, is expected to join Real Madrid this summer, while Barcelona have a plan in place to raise the funds necessary to sign Haaland - a move Pique would undoubtedly approve of.

The Borussia Dortmund forward has also been linked with Madrid, while agent Mino Raiola has mentioned other possible destinations, such as Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

The question now for Haaland is what is his personal goal. Does he want to win the Ballon d'Or, or are team trophies and medals more important?

Whatever the answer, Borussia Dortmund are showing that they cannot offer him either.

Everyone at Dortmund wants Haaland to stay, with captain Marco Reus the latest to weigh in on what the Norway international should do next.

"I would say: 'Stay with us, here you have everything you need to develop further'," Reus told Bild. "Here he can play Champions League, score goals and feel valued to the maximum. He ultimately has to decide what feels best for him."

Sure, Haaland is valued to the maximum at Dortmund, but can he really develop further at a club that is not in a position to compete for major trophies?

In his first two seasons at Signal Iduna Park, Haaland has come second and third in the Bundesliga, and won the DFB-Pokal in 2021.

A 5-2 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday ended any small hope they had of lifting the Bundesliga trophy this season, with Dortmund now in the bizarre position of sitting nine points behind leaders Bayern, but 10 above fifth-place.

Champions League qualification is, therefore, almost guaranteed, but Dortmund have been knocked out of this season's top European tournament, and were also humbled by second-tier St Pauli in the DFB-Pokal.

Winning the Europa League is still possible, but someone like Haaland should be aiming higher. A team like Dortmund should be aiming higher, too.

Instead, they are just drifting along from season to season, conceding sloppy goals, getting knocked out of tournaments and finishing behind Bayern Munich.

Head coach Marco Rose had an altercation with a fan during the defeat to Leverkusen, but Dortmund's problems are bigger than who is in the dugout.

Back in September 2019, after a 2-2 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt where Dortmund conceded late to let another lead slip, Reus hit out at a Sky Germany reporter who asked him if the team had mentality issues.

Reus snapped "It gets on my nerves, you and your mentality sh*t.

"Don't come at me with your mentality sh*t. Every week it's the same thing. That has to do with correct defensive behaviour. We just have to defend better in the last five minutes."

Just weeks earlier, Dortmund had brought Mats Hummels back to the club. The veteran defender was meant to solidify the defence, but the problems remained.

For years, Dortmund have leaked goals. But despite a procession of successive coaches, little has been done about it.

The only experienced centre-back signed since Hummels' return has been loanee Marin Pongracic, who is a hard worker and a reliable depth option, but is never going to be first choice at a top club.

He watched from the bench as Dortmund conceded five against Leverkusen, with centre-back pairing Dan-Axel Zagadou and Manuel Akanji combining for a calamitous own goal to give the visitors the early lead.

Akanji has always been a player with a lot of potential, but like Hummels, cannot be counted on to keep the opposition shot count down.

A deal for to sign Niklas Sule ahead of the 2022-23 season may be too little, too late to convince Haaland to stay, but is a hugely positive signing for Dortmund.

Sule will add much-needed reliability and experience at the back, but his salary costs could be a huge burden if he is not a success.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc have done well off the field, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, to balance the books, but BVB remain a selling club.

Zorc has unearthed many brilliant young talents and sold them at a profit, with these youngsters often carrying the burden of winning games on the pitch too.

Haaland and Jude Bellingham are the team's young stars right now, along with USMNT wonderkid Gio Reyna, who has returned from injury after five months out to give a glimpse of what he is capable of.

But they are likely to follow the same path as Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele and Jadon Sancho out of the club and onto teams where they can compete for trophies.

Zorc has backed Rose despite the Champions League and DFB-Pokal exits, believing him to be the right man to carry the team forward.

“The elimination in these competitions naturally affected the mood around the team. But overall, we are on a very good path with Marco," Zorc told reporters.

"We are totally convinced of the path we have chosen with him. We deliberately chose to make this a long-term partnership.”

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It seems unlikely, though, that Zorc will be able to convince Haaland in the same way.

This Dortmund team is extremely fun to watch and probably to play in for Haaland, but without defensive stability, they have no hope of giving the superstar striker the trophies he deserves.

Why would Haaland want to stay?