'Erling is already in England' - Chelsea target Haaland's absence from Dortmund's fitness test prompts jokey response from Zorc

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Erling Haaland's absence from Borussia Dortmund's pre-season preparations has been laughed off by sporting director Michael Zorc, who quipped that the striker was "already in England" amid heavy transfer speculation.

The Leeds-born Norway international has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks at club level in recent years, backing up an impressive maiden campaign in the Bundesliga with his first bit of silverware after claiming the DFB-Pokal Cup last term.

Such performances have seen a number of potential moves mooted, with Chelsea thought to head a group of Premier League suitors, and his no-show for a fitness test on Monday could have raised alarm bells - but Zorc was quick to shrug off talk of a departure for the 20-year-old.

What has been said?

"Erling is already in England," the sporting director was quoted by Sky Germany, after it was revealed that he had not reported to Dortmund's training complex as scheduled.

The 58-year-old further expounded to Bild over the weekend on Haaland's future however, insisting that they were planning for the 2021-22 campaign with their star forward at their disposal.

"Nothing has changed," he added when asked over whether there could be a departure for the attacker. "We are firmly planning with Erling for the new season."

The bigger picture

Having put one long-running negotiation to bed this summer with Jadon Sancho's exit to Manchester United, Dortmund have been adamant that they will not let their other young superstar leave this year.

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Yet an additional wrinkle in Haaland's contract - which runs through 2024 - means that he could theoretically leave next year for less than the club might be able to sell him for this term, with a reported €75 million (£64m/$89m) release clause there to be executed.

As such, speculation has run rampant that Dortmund could choose to bite the bullet and cash in early this year for a larger sum, though Zorc is yet to suggest that they will budge in their plans.

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