Real Madrid have handed Liverpool and Man Utd a lifeline in their pursuit of Erling Haaland after Carlo Ancelotti formulated a back-up plan with Tottenham ramifications, per a report.
Haaland, 21, is one of football’s hottest commodities. The Norwegian has operated at around a goal-per-game since moving to Borussia Dortmund. If his on-field prowess weren’t enough, his reported £63m release clause that activates next summer will see him courted by Europe’s elite.
Real Madrid have long been touted as the most likely candidate to secure his signature. However, interest from the Premier League has understandably never waned.
Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City have all been linked. Chelsea made efforts to sign Haaland last summer, but their capture of Romelu Lukaku will likely see them bow out of the race one year on.
Now, Spanish outlet El Nacional has provided a fresh update on the Haaland sweepstakes. In doing so, they’ve handed the English suitors a huge boost.
Benzema issue prompts Haaland reversal
Firstly, they acknowledge Haaland remains Real Madrid’s priority signing up top. However, a looming issue with current centre-forward Karim Benzema has muddied the waters.
They state Benzema – who is in the form of his life at present – will refuse to share the limelight with Haaland. Benzema has shone since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club in 2018. Seemingly, he does not wish to revert to being in the shadows once more.
In order to prevent unrest with Benzema, Ancelotti is reportedly willing to forego a Haaland deal and sign Tottenham target Dusan Vlahovic instead.
The Serbian, 21, is also developing a reputation for being a serial marksman. Vlahovic has plundered 18 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions for Fiorentina this season.
Fiorentina are under no illusion that retaining Vlahovic’s services will be difficult. Tottenham and Arsenal have both registered their interest, but it was Spurs who were deemed the most credible option to secure a £68m deal by TuttoMercatoWeb.
The influence of Vlahovic’s agent could make a transfer to Real a costly one. However, they expect that posturing to be nothing more than a negotiating tactic.
If Real did rule themselves out of the Haaland race by favouring a Vlahovic move, a strong rival will be removed from Liverpool and Man Utd’s path to Haaland.
Liverpool, Man Utd caught on their heels
Meanwhile, American sensation Ricardo Pepi is poised to cross the Atlantic in January, though it appears admirers Liverpool and Manchester United have been caught on their heels.
The Mirror revealed the 18-year-old wonderkid had emerged on the radars of both Manchester United and Liverpool. However, given Pepi’s rapid rise, the transfer race quickly became crowded.
Per the article, the MLS club were demanding the modest figure of just £7.5m, including add-ons. That would represent a veritable bargain for whichever side landed the striker. Now, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has shed light on who that will be.
Romano tweeted Wolfsburg are ‘pushing’ to sign Pepi and are the current ‘frontrunners’.
Negotiations are reportedly ‘ongoing’ with FC Dallas over the final fee that will be paid.
Romano concluded the deal is a ‘work in progress’. Though he acknowledged Pepi is almost certain to move to Europe next month.