“It’s not true,” said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola when asked about Erling Haaland’s alleged release clause that could be activated either in 2024 or in 2025.
Guardiola’s statements came as a shock but as it turns out, Spanish publication Diario AS is saying that the former Barcelona manager is deploying the same tactic that was used by Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke when Haaland was first linked with an exit from the German club.
It must be remembered that Watzke repeatedly said that ‘there is no clause’ in Haaland’s Dortmund contract. This was largely done to take the pressure off his player but in the end, City did manage to activate the €60 million clause that was always there.
As things stand, history is seeming to repeat itself. Guardiola is denying that his star attacker has no exit clause in his contract, but as confirmed by several outlets and journalists, including Fabrizio Romano, it exists.
Over the years, Haaland’s late football agent Mino Raiola has worked in a certain pattern. The pattern was to include an exit clause that can be activated in the first two years under certain conditions.
Back during the forward’s RB Salzburg days, Dortmund were given a preference, followed by City and now Real Madrid. For now, it’s been quoted that Madrid will have the option to sign the Norwegian for €200 million in 2024 or €175 million in 2025.
The fee may be astronomical, but Real Madrid have a situation to handle. To begin with, Karim Benzema is 34 and as reported before, an automatic activation will be in place once he wins the Ballon d’Or this year which would extend his current deal to 2024.
Beyond that, Real Madrid will have to look for some to fill the void. Now, it is believed that Haaland wanted to join Real Madrid in the summer but he knew displacing Karim Benzema would be impossible.
Hence, contacts were maintained by the Madrid club in order to keep the door open for his arrival in the future. And they believe that convincing the player will hold the key to the deal going through.
When the chance comes for Real to explore the possibility, they will certainly have to present Haaland with a project where he could feel at home, or even better than how is being treated at City this season.
Real Madrid considered signing 25-year-old Bundesliga defender on loan after Alaba’s injury
David Alaba’s ACL rupture towards the end of 2023 sent a wave of sudden panic within the Real Madrid coaching staff and during the January transfer market, the team from the Spanish capital explored several opportunities.
In that context, a report from AS has affirmed that Real Madrid considered signing Union Berlin’s Diogo Leite on loan until the end of the season, but the move and the entire thought eventually died out.
Real Madrid liked what they saw
Leite was identified by Real Madrid as a player with significant potential, possessing excellent ball control, and having demonstrated his capabilities at the highest level.
However, rather than exploring a permanent transfer, the possibility of a loan until the end of the season was under consideration, taking into account the specific circumstances faced by Carlo Ancelotti’s team.
Notably, the 25-year-old played the full 90 minutes in both matches against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu (1-0) and at his home (3-2) in the Champions League group stages.
Summer move not being considered
Leite, a product of FC Porto youth academy, has gained valuable experience under Pepe’s guidance while at the Portuguese club which made him Union Berlin’s fourth most expensive signing in history.
As of today, though, Real Madrid’s summer transfer target list excludes central defenders, with the exception of Rafa Marin, who is on loan to Alaves.
Interestingly enough, Leite has garnered a strong reputation in the Bundesliga, and sources indicate that Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen is expressing interest in acquiring his services.
As far as Real Madrid are concerned, the likes of Eder Miliato and Alaba would return by the beginning of the next season and with Antonio Rudiger also available, the centre-back positions would be more or less covered.