By David Woods

23rd Mar, 2020 | 7:21am

Phil Hay details how close Leeds were to absolutely sensational signing ripping it up in 19/20

Athletic journalist Phil Hay has said that Leeds tried to make Erling Haaland one of their highest-earning players, behind the likes of Pontus Jansson and Samu Saiz. 

Before the Coronavirus started dominating the headlines the football world was talking about one player – Haaland.

The lethal striker is still only 19 but he’s got an incredible record this season – 16 goals in 14 games in the Austrian Bundesliga with Red Bull Salzburg, nine in eight games in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and 10 in eight Champions League games.

Add in his domestic cup games and he’s got 40 goals in 33 games already – they’re frightening statistics.

He’s the hottest striker on the world stage at the moment and Phil Hay has detailed “how close” Leeds came to signing him.

He has history with the city, born there to father and former Leeds player Alf-Inge.

18 months ago Leeds tried to lure him back and obviously knew his potential.

According to an article in the Athletic, “Haaland, then just turning 18, would have sat behind Leeds’ highest earners on the wage behind at the time, players such as Pontus Jansson and Samuel Saiz, but they were willing to offer a salary above that of many of their first-team players.

“The pitch from Elland Road came with the usual promise of regular games and a pathway to bigger things.”

Hay said Haaland had reason to be keen and Leeds were “optimistic” about getting the deal done.

Unfortunately for Leeds, Salzburg came in with a much bigger offer and the then 18-year-old went to Austria where his career took off almost immediately.

He scored 29 goals in 27 games for them before moving to Dortmund last January.

Leeds fans still hold out hope that he might move ‘back home’ one day but it looks like that time has passed.

It’s true that he once said he was a Leeds fan and that his “dream” was to win the Premier League with Leeds but he dialled back on that in recent comments and he would likely be one of the most expensive players in the world if he was to move again.

Never say never but Leeds would need to be competing in the Champions League at a minimum to have any hope of tempting a player like Haaland to sign, and have spending that could rival the top teams like Man City.

Of course, that could happen according to owner Andrea Radrizzani, if the QSI takeover was to happen… but that’s another story.

In other Leeds United news, Exclusive: Paul Robinson claims Leeds will play Yorkshire rivals behind closed doors