Why Erling Haaland decided not to join Real Madrid

Haaland in action
Haaland in action / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Erling Haaland decided against joining Real Madrid in the summer because it wasn’t as good a fit for him as Manchester City, primarily due to the presence of Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu and the possible future arrival of Kylian Mbappe.

City spent the summer of 2021 unsuccessfully trying to persuade Tottenham to sell Harry Kane and ended up navigating the 2021/22 season without a recognised central striker.

The Premier League champions then moved early in the 2022 summer window to bring in Haaland and fill that void. The Norwegian was also a target for Barcelona, who pulled out over finances and eventually landed Robert Lewandowski, and for Real Madrid.

But he chose Manchester City. Not only is are City the club he grew up supporting – his father Alf-Inge Haaland played for the club between 2000 and 2003 – it was also the best option at the time.

“You can't really [say no to Real Madrid],” Alf-Inge admitted on Viaplay’s new documentary Haaland: The Choice.

But the father and agent went on to explain why Real wasn’t right for his son.

“We have a criterion in mind, who needs a '9'? Manchester City is a 10, it is the perfect option, while Real Madrid is a 5 or a 6 because of how Benzema is playing now. Will they manage to sign Mbappe?” the retired defender said.

Real president Florentino Perez offered similar reasoning why Haaland didn’t wind up in Madrid when speaking about it back in June: "We have the best nine in the world and we weren't going to bring in Haaland to have him on the bench, right?”

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Real eventually didn’t land Mbappe, who signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain instead. But Benzema is still going strong after scoring more than 40 goals for the first time in his career in 2021/22 – he already has another four in five games so far in 2022/23.

Haaland, meanwhile has started his Manchester City career with 10 goals in seven appearances.

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