By George Overhill

12th May, 2022 | 6:10am

Leeds United admit new Man City star Erling Haaland was right to reject them in 2018

Leeds United accept that new Manchester City signing Erling Haaland was right to reject a move to the club in 2018, according to The Athletic.

The Whites were close to bringing the Norwegian superstar to Elland Road when he left Molde as a teenager, with the son of former United player Alf Inge well-disposed towards the club.

But Red Bull Salzburg’s late splash took him Austria, from where he moved to Borussia Dortmund and now the Premier League leaders while becoming arguably the most sought-after player in the world, vindicating his decision to snub a return to Yorkshire.

The Athletic article says: “The club were optimistic about nailing down an agreement and, with the help of Yorkshire-based agent Hayden Evans, he was flown to England to look around Elland Road stadium and the club’s training ground at Thorp Arch.

“Everything looked hopeful until Salzburg tabled a contract dwarfing the terms Leeds were offering. In an instant, there was no contest.

“As Haaland accepted Salzburg’s advances, Leeds tried to tell themselves he was taking the money but they accept now that his decision to move to Austria was astute. “You couldn’t accuse him of making a mistake,” said one senior Leeds source.”

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now


It is tempting to wonder what a Whites side with the 21-year-old in would look like now, but it is unlikely that things would be hugely different than they are.

Haaland only spent a year in Salzburg before his unavoidable talent made the next step necessary on his inevitable path to the top.

Had his goals fired United into the Premier League he may have been tempted to stay at Elland Road longer than he did in the Austrian Bundesliga, but either way he would almost certainly have been bought by a bigger club by now.

The money that might have banked could have been a help, but considering both of his previous moves have been for relatively low buy-out clauses it may not have been much (£17.1million to Dortmund and £51 million to City).

His ex-Elland Road father and the late super-agent Mino Raiola had a map planned out for the prodigy’s development from early on so, while money has certainly appeared to be a big factor along that journey, the smooth progress he has made personally has proven the decision not to accept Leeds’ advance to be a fair one.

He may well have succeeded anywhere, but the combative nature of the Championship, and for that matter the Premier League wouldn’t have been as an agreeable environment before he had reached a peak.

So far his presence in the team hasn’t made a major difference to his clubs, with Salzburg winning the league either side of his spell across two seasons, and Dortmund unable to reel in Bayern Munich over the past two and a half seasons, so there can’t be too many regrets on either side.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay says Leeds don’t have the “tolerance” for Jesse Marsch’s exuberance while the team is in danger.