Is Erling Haaland ready for a move to Manchester United? Speaking on Sunday Supplement, Melissa Reddy thinks it may come to early in his career.
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The 19-year-old striking prodigy is being tracked by the likes of United and Borussia Dortmund ahead of the January transfer window and he has already visited other teams in Germany this month.
Haaland, who has 28 goals in 22 games for Red Bull Salzburg this season, has also reportedly told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he wants to sign for him.
Reddy, senior football correspondent at the Independent, has spent time at Salzburg, interviewing Christoph Freund, their sporting director, and questions whether the club think their striker is ready for a move to a big European club.
She said: “Having spoken to their head of the academy, sporting director and a manager, they think they have an exceptional player who is very humble and modest. He ticks all the boxes you look for, but he hasn’t played enough professional games at a high level to answer the question if he’s ready for a club like Manchester United.
“When you go to United now you’re not going into this winning machine, you have to take a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, which at the moment he doesn’t have to do at Salzburg.
“There’s not a lot of pressure or focus, he’s been allowed to develop. OK, he’s got a lot of headlines and hype due to his performances in the Champions League but he’s been able to develop quietly.
“What I’ve been told is that they’d like to keep him until the end of the season and maybe have another season to get him that experience. If he does go, then the preference is for him to go to the Bundesliga to RB Leipzig or Dortmund in order to continue his development away from a giant.”
Red Bull Salzburg have a strong recent history of unearthing and developing young players with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita bursting onto the scene in Austria while Liverpool are in talks to sign their current midfielder Takumi Minamino in January.
Reddy revealed that Salzburg take a huge interest in the development of their young players when it comes to clubs that are interested in one of their stars.
“The club have taken care of [Haaland] and have his best interests at heart,” she added.
“They are not thinking about commercially what it will do for them, they are thinking about his career trajectory. If you look at their history with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita – they have cared despite the players moving on. They check in on them and make sure everything is OK. They are really big on development.”
So, is Manchester United the right move for Haaland?
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Reddy said: “Manchester United have so many exciting talents of their own, so it wouldn’t be a massive issue if they missed out on him. They have other areas to strengthen, like the midfield.
“They also need to think of building a multi-faceted team as you only get the chance to play on the counter-attack a few times a season. You need to build a team capable of breaking teams down.”
How to follow the January transfer window
Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.
Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day’s news with The Transfer Show.