Man Utd: The story behind the Haaland pursuit
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Manchester United want Erling Haaland. And they could be about to learn just how needed the Borussia Dortmund star is in their FA Cup showdown with Leicester on Sunday. With Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford expected to miss the match, it’s time for Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial to step up.
Manchester United go into the match against Leicester on a high.
They’re ticking along nicely in the Premier League, sitting only behind Manchester City in the table with nine games left to go.
They made their way to the Europa League quarter-finals in midweek, beating AC Milan at the San Siro with Paul Pogba scoring the winner.
And, now, it’s time for United to turn it on when it comes to the FA Cup.
It promises to be quite a spectacle at the King Power Stadium, with both the Red Devils and the Foxes known for their enterprising and entertaining style of play.
United have a decision to make up top, however.
With Cavani and Rashford both expected to miss the match, either Greenwood or Martial will be deployed in the centre-forward position.
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And United could be about to learn just how much Haaland should be considered a priority, with the Borussia Dortmund star currently featuring strongly on their summer transfer wishlist.
The Red Devils have, for now, made him their priority.
But that’s not always been the case. That stance has changed throughout the campaign, with a right winger and centre-back initially their main objectives for the summer.
United have seen Martial and Greenwood struggle this season.
Martial, after finding the net 23 times across all competitions last term, has managed to score just seven goals this term.
And Greenwood, who managed 17 across all competitions a year ago, has found the net just once in the Premier League.
With Rashford and Cavani sidelined, the pair could have a chance to prove themselves in the No 9 role against Leicester in the FA Cup showdown.
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And, if they struggle again, United will have learned just how much Haaland is needed at Old Trafford.
This is now the biggest match in their season. Victory will see them through to yet another semi-final, their second of the season and fifth of the Solskjaer regime.
If Martial and Greenwood turn it on, perhaps they’ll show the Red Devils should be focusing on other areas of their squad instead.
But 90 minutes of toiling will further bolster Solskjaer’s belief that Haaland must be signed, at any cost.
The Dortmund star has been irresistible this season, scoring 21 goals from 21 Bundesliga matches while clocking up four assists along the way.
And Solskjaer, curiously, recently revealed the pair are still in touch.
“It is clear that Erling is going to have a fantastic career,” he said.
“I follow Erling. I have always said that. Was it 18 months we had together or something like that?
“Almost two years, perhaps. A fantastic time. He will surely have a super career both for Norway and his club. He is doing incredibly well for Dortmund.
“We will see where he ends up. As a Norwegian and someone who has worked with him, it is of course great that he is doing so well.”
Michael Owen, meanwhile, thinks United need Haaland more than they do a centre-back partner for Harry Maguire.
“A top centre forward I think,” he said recently.
“I would like to see pace alongside Harry Maguire because then I think it changes the whole dynamic.
“If they could start defending one vs one, two vs two than that changes the whole dynamic of a team. I don’t think they can do that.
“They tried to do that against Tottenham earlier in the season and basically they’ve been scared stiff of committing bodies forward since.
“They tend to be a bit more pragmatic, they never tend to beat teams four or five-nil.
“But if I had one position though it would be a centre forward, right down the middle. There’s one on everyone’s lips at the minute which every team actually need.
“Haaland is the name in question and virtually every big team a the moment needs a centre forward. He is going to be hot property when and if he becomes available.”
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