Pep Guardiola seriously values the possibility of signing Erling Haaland. This is said by the British press and confirmed by intermediary agents who participated in the first contacts between the Norwegian player and Manchester City, during the winter. This Tuesday (9:00 p.m., Movistar) , Haaland's Borussia Dortmund will visit Etihad to play the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The press conference prior to the game, this Monday, pushed the envoys to launch a barrage of questions about Guardiola that the coach responded with more or less articulate evasions. "All I can say is that, considering his age, he is an exceptional striker," Guardiola replied. “A blind man would see it! The numbers speak for themselves! ”
Haaland is 20 years old but attacks the goal as if he were 30. He has 32 games, 33 goals and 8 assists this season. But when Guardiola was asked how to stop him, he pointed to the heart of the problem. "Forwards have more chances to score when they are in our penalty area," he said; “The more minutes they spend in our area, the more chances they will have. I'm not a mathematician but this is obvious: all the strikers in the world want to be there. The less time we allow them to do it, the more difficult it will be. ”
Guardiola knows that the best way to deactivate Haaland is to deactivate the tormented midfield of Dortmund, a team called to great conquests that seems to be progressively disconnecting as the season progresses. Last Saturday's defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt (1-2) exposed critical disorganization and discouragement. So much so that the Dortmund board that traveled to Manchester this Monday considered his team eliminated, according to sources close to the club.
When coach Edin Terzic replaced Marco Reus on Saturday, the captain turned to the bench slowly, as if not he was in a hurry to leave the field where his team played a large part of its sporting and economic destiny. It was the 80th minute and Eintracht drew 1-1. The partial result left Dortmund out of access to the Champions League for the first time in six seasons. The urge to go back was inflaming the box with panic, where the president, Hans-Joachim-Watzke, and the sports director, Michael Zorc, watched the scene furiously behind their masks. Reus took off his bracelet, threw it away, and it became apparent that he was fed up.
Haaland, 10 years of
goals Two days before traveling to Manchester, that was the worst possible sign. The gestural display of the most respected player in the dressing room caused consternation. Not only because the winger treasures qualities that make him the most complete footballer on the team, but also because he has been the only member of the squad who has remained loyal to the institution since 2011, a period in which all his teammates sought or found one. Exit. Reus is an authority and a catalyst. The reflection of a strategy that capsized just when it seemed that it had reached its splendor. When the presence of Erling Haaland validated a decade of commercial speculation progressively unleashed by the desire of some leaders who were more concerned every day with billing than with building a competitive team.
"In a match like this we had to show a different body language," he protested Watzke on television. “Everyone had to see that we wanted to leave the field as winners; it is a matter of will. That's where the team has disappointed me beyond all limits. ”
Watzke is primarily responsible for the drift of Dortmund, a club that has become a paradigm of economic growth at the cost of training and selling young footballers. Each time faster. A productive success that in the four seasons prior to the pandemic transferred players worth more than 600 million euros, including Weigl, Diallo, Philipp, Pulisic, Dembélé, Aubameyang, Ginter, Bender, Mkhitaryan and Gündogan.
Convinced that the machinery would work better with submissive coaches, Watzke and Zorc dispensed with Jürgen Klopp first; later they confronted Thomas Tuchel, whom they dismissed with defamations; and finally they signed Lucien Favre, a melancholic man who was also fired before last Christmas to put in his place Edin Terzic, his assistant. As early as December, Terzic's inability to shape the team's play became apparent. But this did not deter the leaders, who decided to keep him until the end of the season convinced that they would also qualify for the Champions League, a fundamental source of income and absolute priority of the club over the conquest of titles. The plan failed.
"To stay out of the Champions League would be a sporting and financial catastrophe," complained Mats Hummels, Zorc's vicar in the locker room. The management of Dortmund has begun to slide that if it is confirmed that the team will not play the next Champions League, the economic losses will range between 30 and 80 million euros. Considering the level of financial exhaustion experienced by the institution after the pandemic, this will imply the forced sale of valuable players. It is no accident that Mino Raiola, Haaland's agent, is eager to hasten his client's transfer this summer. That the interested clubs deny or confirm their interest is part of the devaluation / overvaluation game that shakes every market.
Bayern caresses the title and Dortmund sink a little more in the Bundesliga
“Buy players of more than 100 million euros it doesn't give you a competitive advantage, ”Guardiola said on Monday, when asked about his apparent disinterest in Haaland; “Soccer is a team game. So far, our club as an institution has decided not to sign players of more than 100 million euros for one player. Maybe in the future; not now. ”
The game between City and Dortmund tonight will clear up some unknowns about two teams that describe opposing trajectories. Every day this season the City has played better. Dortmund, on the other hand, threatens to be shipwrecked if Haaland does not remedy it.
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