He was and remains one of the hottest properties in European football, even world football. His signature was chased by all and sundry as the biggest names in the game flexed their muscles vying for a generational talent that could be a game changer for any team.
Erling Haaland can walk into any team and command a starting shirt. And he will instantly improve the team. That’s how good he is and the numbers speak for themselves. The Norwegian has been sensational since he broke into the scene a few years ago at RB Salzburg.
Some said he could not do it at the biggest stage in a top European team. It’s likely Manchester United were still concerned about the risk involved in signing an unproven player at the highest level. That’s why they slacked and allowed Borussia Dortmund to steal a march on them.
But having proven himself as one of the best players of his generation, in fact, one in the top three bracket of the best strikers in the world at the moment, everyone wanted him.
It was Manchester City that successfully acquired the 21-year-old and just like his father before him he will represent the Sky Blues and call the Etihad Stadium home starting from next season.
In a day and time where top players command nine figures in transfer fees, activating Haaland’s £51.1m release clause ahead of other interested parties is a genius move.
Not only is the club getting an exceptional player it really needs to fill a gaping hole in the attack, it has been able to keep him away from rivals.
It’s like victory on two fronts.
Real Madrid are on supposed course to acquire Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. The French international could join the Spanish giants on a free in the summer, which will definitely be one of the biggest and best transfer deals to be made given the player's standing in the game.
But that does not in any way belittle what Manchester City have been able to achieve with the Haaland deal.
For starters, Manchester City are still newcomers to the table of men as far as European heavyweights are concerned. The Blues may have conquered England by winning the Premier League trophy back-to-back alongside order silverware in the land. But European success is a different ball game.
It’s not just about money or playing beautiful football. It requires experience and a different mentality altogether. Just one moment of loss of concentration in the 90th minute and all the hard work put in over 180 minutes goes to waste.
The tables get turned in a twinkle of an eye. And from setting sights already in the final, the team is suddenly high and dry. That’s what makes it a turf for the big boys. It takes a whole lot to make it at that stage and newcomers find out the hard way.
As a by-product of their success, the biggest names in the game also get to sign the best upcoming players. It’s simple logic; the best talents want to play in the best teams where they have the best chance of winning the biggest trophies.
Of course, these teams also have deep pockets. But history plays a huge role here.
So it would have been natural to see Erling Haaland head to one of the traditional European heavyweights. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus or Bayern Munich.
But here we are with a generational talent in the mold of the biggest names in the game in times past, names like Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, set to play for Manchester City.
Without the clout and history of the heavyweights, yet not paying a stupendous amount to get the player, this indeed, must be the deal of the summer.