Barcelona begin Haaland transfer talks

Erling Haaland’s father, Alf-Inge Haaland, and agent Mino Raiola held talks in Barcelona on Thursday with Barca president Joan Laporta over a possible transfer for the superstar Borussia Dortmund forward.

Sources told ESPN that the 2½-hour meeting — attended by Raiola, Alf-Inge Haaland, Laporta and Barca’s incoming director of football Mateu Alemany — was a first step to explore the viability of a deal, with talks in their very early stages. Sources added that Dortmund are aware of the meeting between Haaland’s representatives and it is expected further clubs will seek to discuss a transfer with the player. Haaland held similar rounds of talks with interested clubs, including Manchester United, before he left FC Salzburg to join Dortmund last January.

Haaland, 20, has scored 49 goals in 49 games for Borussia Dortmund since signing for the Bundesliga club in January 2020 from Salzburg. A release clause in his contract does not come into effect until 2022, and ESPN has reported that Dortmund would accept €180m this summer.

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Sources told ESPN that Laporta believes Haaland would be a strategic signing that would strengthen Barca for a decade or more, as well as avoiding his joining a rival club. However, there is an acceptance that Barca’s financial situation will make agreeing a deal difficult, as will competition from Real Madrid and Manchester City. Barca are aware that a move to Madrid would be attractive to Haaland, while City’s economic firepower makes them serious contenders. Laporta and super-agent Raiola have a long-standing relationship, but these talks are the first official contact over a potential deal for Haaland. Sources said the role of Barcelona’s technical secretary Ramon Planes — whom Raiola knows and trusts — could also be key.

Barca considered a move for Haaland in 2020, before a bid was ruled out by then-sporting director Eric Abidal. The club are investigating lines of credit that would make a deal possible, just as they did for the signing of Antoine Griezmann in 2019. Sources told ESPN that Haaland’s profile as a young, up-and-coming talent suits that of Ronald Koeman’s new Barcelona team. His signing would also be viewed as a major statement and a powerful argument to convince Lionel Messi to renew his contract, which expires this summer.

Barca are also working on reducing their wage bill — even more so if Messi decides to stay — and would need to move on high earners such as Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and even Griezmann.

ESPN’s Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld contributed to this report.

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