Haaland’s BVB move sends message in wide-open Bundesliga race

Haland signs with Borussia Dortmund
Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images
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Borussia Dortmund announced its capture of star teen striker Erling Braut Haaland on Sunday, saying “our persistence paid off.”

BVB pipped a number of suitors, including Red Bull Salzburg’s partner club RB Leipzig, to land the heralded Norwegian striker.

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The 19-year-old produced an incredible half-season for Jesse Marsch at Salzburg, notching 28 goals and seven assists in 22 matches.

Lest anyone write it off as Austrian Bundesliga success for Haaland, he scored eight times in the Champions League. That includes a goal against Liverpool and three versus Napoli.

He signs a deal with BVB through 2023/24. From BVB.de/en:

“Right from the very start, I knew I wanted to move here. I can’t wait to get started and play in front of over 80,000 fans in the incredible Dortmund atmosphere. I’m so excited.”

This will likely prove at worst a temporary setback for Manchester United and Liverpool, but it’s huge for BVB. They may have a target man befitting a title fight. Leaders RB Leipzig have Timo Werner and Bayern still has Robert Lewandowski, and Haaland can be the next wave. Dortmund is seven points back of the Bundesliga lead in a wide-open title fight.

Haaland has the pedigree, his father 34-times capped for Norway. Alf-Inge Haaland played much of his career in England with Manchester City, Leeds United, and Nottingham Forest.

The move is a shot across the bow of Salzburg, though it fits their philosophy. And according to sporting director Christoph Freund they could not have signed Haaland without an out clause in his deal.

“It is incredible how well Erling developed with us and the kind of outstanding performances he has achieved together with our team,” from Salzburg’s official site. “We are proud to have been able to develop another young player to this level. Without putting an exit clause in his contract, we would not have been able to sign him for FC Red Bull Salzburg in the summer of 2018. We wish Erling all the very best for his future, which I am sure will take him to great places.

Can American coach Marsch overcome the sales of Haaland and Takumi Minamino? He’ll have a month to get his squad ready for a critical and brutal three-match run.

Salzburg is yet to lose in league play but holds just a two-point lead over LASK. They have an Austrian Cup quarterfinal on Feb. 9 before meeting LASK on Valentine’s Day and Eintracht Frankfurt on Feb. 20 in the Europa League. That’s a huge ask of a manager.

It won’t hurt Marsch’s resume too much if it doesn’t go well; His star will only rise if he successfully navigates life without Minamino and Haaland.