When you’re trying to hold onto one of your star players, one of the most potent strikers on the planet, failing to qualify for the Champions League is not really an option.
Disappointingly for Borussia Dortmund, they’ve endured a faltering campaign and the odds of them appearing in next season’s edition of Europe’s premier competition are slim, meaning the chances of keeping Erling Haaland are dwindling fast too.
BVB conceded an 87th minute Andre Silva header on Saturday, seeing them slip seven points behind Eintracht Frankfurt, who defeated them 2-1, and the top four with only seven games left to play. Two days later and their number nine Haaland was touching down in Manchester.
However, City and United fans shouldn’t get excited just yet, for the Norwegian is in the North-West to take on Pep Guardiola’s men in the Champions League quarter-finals. After their struggles domestically, this match is huge for Dortmund in terms of what happens this summer and beyond.
With the Bundesliga route to the Champions League looking too difficult, the Black and Yellows will only qualify by winning this season’s tournament or instead have to settle for Europa League. Dortmund won’t have a chance but to settle. Haaland, though, with City, United, Real Madrid and Barcelona all keen to sign him, would very likely prefer playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and have Thursday evenings free.
Reports over the weekend suggest the 20-year-old will cost more than £150m but really, he is worth far more to Dortmund. Why would any club like to cash in on virtually guaranteed goals? Of course, the German giants are excellent at buying, selling and rebuilding but Haaland could make them a force capable of taking titles away from Bayern Munich. Sadly, BVB are not in that top-tier of clubs Haaland has been interesting and may not have much of a say in the matter.
However, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke is adamant he will remain this summer and told Goal.com, “We don't have a parallel plan. We'll discuss this with Erling, his father and his agent Mino Raiola in peace. We also want him to stay with us, to score goals for BVB next year with conviction. There is no alternative plan.”
City won’t say it out loud but the Premier League leaders are plotting an historic quadruple and by winning the Champions League, a by-product of such success would be knocking out Dortmund this month to weaken their hand before snatching Haaland for a decade of goals and glory.
On Monday, Guardiola hinted City, who last week announced legendary striker Sergio Aguero will leave the club this summer, could one day part with cash totalling nine figures to land the right player.
"So far, the club has decided not to spend close to £100m for a player," he said ahead of taking on Dortmund. "Maybe in the future it will happen when the club decides it is necessary to improve the team for the next five to 10 years. The organisation has so far decided not to and that is why we haven’t. Maybe in the future.
"Spending a lot of money on one player doesn't give you an advantage to win. Football is a team game, everyone makes a contribution. Competitions are not won by one player, it is every player."
True, but having Haaland leading the line would take City up a level. This quarter-final is a match for silverware but so much more could come in the fallout this summer. Dortmund look to be fighting a losing battle.