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Erling Haaland still in mind for Real Madrid 2024

The Norwegian, with a clause to leave Man City next summer, boasts of his friendship with Bellingham while his agent, Rafaela Pimenta, visited the Santiago Bernabéu.

The Norwegian, with a clause to leave Man City next summer, boasts of his friendship with Bellingham while his agent, Rafaela Pimenta, visited the Santiago Bernabéu.

Real Madrid strives to convey a unified message regarding the transfer market: there are no ongoing operations or discussions of any kind. All of that is reserved for next summer, when the season has concluded or, at the very least, when it is in its final stages. Ancelotti himself made light of this earlier in the week when asked about the possibility of Madrid being busy in the winter transfer market: “I don’t think we’ll do anything in January,” he said. “We won’t do anything. In the summer, hopefully. In the summer, for sure.”

Days ago, the club issued a public statement affirming that there is no ongoing operation to pursue the signing of Kylian Mbappé for summer 2024 (in January, six months before the end of his contract, he can already engage in unrestricted talks if he so wishes). Nevertheless, certain figures loom in the Madridista atmosphere regardless of the club’s efforts, and one of them is Erling Haaland.

Madrid’s Haaland links

The Manchester City forward has consistently played a secondary role in Real Madrid’s plans, at least in recent seasons. Mbappé has been the top priority, with a €200 million offer made in 2021 and expectations for his arrival in 2022, despite ultimately renewing with PSG. In the same year, Haaland moved to the Premier League winnners from Borussia Dortmund; at that time, Madrid considered the signing of a striker less urgent, given that Benzema had just finished the best season of his career (44 goals in 46 matches).

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Haaland joined a leading team with virtually unlimited financial potential, competing for the Champions League each season, a competition they finally won with him in their ranks as part of an incredible treble. Nevertheless, the Norwegian’s name continues to be speculated for a future move to the Spanish capital.

Friends | Haaland and Bellingham.
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Friends | Haaland and Bellingham.STEPHANIE LECOCQREUTERS

Haaland, his agent, and the release clause

This link occurs because the conditions are conducive to it: Haaland has a release clause that comes into play next summer, allowing him to depart from Manchester for a sum in the vicinity of €200 million (the official amount has not been disclosed at this time). The forward’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta, heiress to the late Mino Raiola’s empire, made it clear in an interview with AS that her clients always like to have options for the future and not be unilateral hostages of clubs, as is the case at PSG.

“I am in favour of freedom. It’s my battle. One of my priorities as an agent is to offer the player what I call ‘the key to the door.’ When the player goes to a club, I do everything to create the conditions for the key to the door to be in their hands. And if tomorrow you can’t stand being there anymore because you don’t like it, or you’re not paid well, or because your wife wants to live in Paris? Well, you leave, don’t you?

“I don’t like it when my player is not free to decide. The worker must have the right to be transferred, to decide their own life.

When addressing the matter of Haaland in particular, Pimenta preferred to speak in general terms, but implicitly, she responded, “I have handled all the contracts for this agency in the last 25 years. All of them. There hasn’t been a single time when a player said, ‘I want to leave,’ and couldn’t do it.”

She refused to confirm or deny a specific clause for the Norwegian, and City boss Pep Guardiola stated that it did not exist. However, the English press has reported its existence, and AS has also previously been informed about it. Coincidentally or not, Pimenta was at the Bernabéu last Wednesday to watch the Madrid-Braga match, even though there were no players represented by her agency in the game (she does have some Madrid women’s team footballers in her client portfolio).

When asked on the move by Spanish programme El Chiringuito about the reasons for her visit and whether she would talk to Florentino Pérez about Haaland, she denied it as she left with a simple: “No, no, no, no...”

Rafaela Pimenta, Haaland's agent, at the Bernabéu.
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Rafaela Pimenta, Haaland's agent, at the Bernabéu.DIARIO ASDiarioAS

The relationship between Mino Raiola and Real Madrid was not the best. The volcanic temperament of the Italian clashed with the composed attitude of Señor Pérez, although communication channels remained open through the general director, José Ángel Sánchez. Pimenta has a different temperament, and relations have been completely normalised. The player’s father, former City player Alf-Inge Haaland, created obstacles during the semifinal leg of last season’s Champions League, engaging in verbal altercations with several Madrid fans and bidding them farewell with various gestures. However, this is an anecdote; if the signing of Haaland becomes a possibility, there won’t be impediments of that nature.

Haaland-Bellingham friendship: plain for all to see

The player’s position in all this remains to be seen, as he has adapted perfectly to life at City, both personally and, above all, in sports terms. In the last campaign, he scored 52 goals in 53 matches, and in the current season, he has already netted 15 in 17. He secured the treble and UEFA’s Best Player award, with only Messi’s World Cup victory preventing him from the Ballon d’Or.

The current atmosphere seems ideal for him, but at the same time, the Norwegian has a close relationship with Spain: he has owned a house in Marbella for years, where he spends a significant part of his free time. Moreover, he has a good friend in the Real Madrid squad: a certain Jude Bellingham.

Haaland and Bellingham.
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Haaland and Bellingham.AFP

Haaland makes no effort to conceal the strong bond he shares with Bellingham, his former teammate at Borussia Dortmund.

“I watched Jude’s incredible debut at Real Madrid, and I’m really happy for him,” he remarked in September.

Following the dramatic victory over Getafe, with a goal from Bellingham, Haaland commented, “What a guy,” on one of the Englishman’s social media posts. After Bellingham’s brace in the Clásico, Haaland posted an image of the midfielder about to strike the ball that levelled it up at 1-1, accompanied by the caption: “This guy’s unreal.”

The footballing world will be watching closely as this season pans out.