Everton must surely rue their decision to reject the chance to sign Erling Braut Haaland during his youth given the progression of the Borussia Dortmund star in the years since.
While speaking with the Liverpool Echo, the Toffees’ former Head of European Recruitment, Ian Atkins, has revealed that the Goodison Park outfit snubbed the chance to sign Haaland as a teen.
The club’s then-Scandinavia-based talent spotter Brian King had spotted the emerging skills of the striker whilst he built a name for himself at Bryne FK, while contacts across Norway were already buzzing with talk of the country’s up-and-coming sensation.
Haaland would travel to Merseyside for a trial and a chance to prove himself at a Premier League club with a record for promoting their academy talents, but the views of those in control did not share King’s excitement.
“King was really excited about this kid,” Atkins said. “He’d watched Haaland a lot and rated him really highly. He gets on to the club and manages to get him in for four days with the academy, so that the coaches can have a look at him and see what they think.
“This is when Haaland is at Bryne, before the Molde move, so he’s raw but he’s got all these great attributes you don’t often see in someone so young.
“He comes in for four days and the academy decided he wasn’t good enough, something that Brian King didn’t agree with. He thought there was a real talent in there, but they didn’t agree. He was one that got away for Everton, but you get that in football. I think Haaland would have suited the English game.”
It is noted that it was not long after his failed trial spell that Haaland agreed to join a then-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed Molde FK, where his efforts would lead to a move to RB Salzburg and later Borussia Dortmund.
Like Atkins told the Liverpool Echo, Haaland is certainly one that got away from Everton with the 20-year-old now one of Europe’s hottest properties and thought to be a target for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Any side wishing to land the striker faces having to pay a king’s ransom, with his €75m (£65m) Dortmund buy-out clause not active until 2022 and claims that his agent, Mino Raiola, will push for a £78m, five-year contract with a basic wage of £300,000-per-week.
Raiola and BVB can both stake their claim to mammoth fees for Haaland to move this summer as few strikes in Europe offer as much as the Norwegian, or on such a regular basis.
Only Robert Lewandowski (26) and Andre Silva (18) have netted more goals than Haaland (17) in the Bundesliga this term, though no one has scored more often in the Champions League than the Leeds-born attacker – with a TransferMarkt valuation of £99m – who has struck home eight times in five games so far.
Haaland is far from the finished product, either, with Jesse Marsch – his former coach at RB Salzburg – only able to wax lyrical over the seven-cap striker.
“I always say about Erling, if you just talk about his talent, his physical abilities as a footballer, he is right away in the top one per cent of professionals, of the best players in the world, Marsch told Sky Sports. “But when you add his mentality, his joy, his commitment to improve, his work ethic, his fearlessness, right away, it is clear that there is no ceiling for this young man.”
But Everton will likely have to watch on as Haaland continues to take Europe by storm, knowing that they passed up on his potential after a four-day trial against the better judgment of the man who discovered his talent.
AND in other news, Everton eye free transfer of £113k-p/w maestro who “always gives everything”…