Erling Haaland to Barcelona? Dortmund have 'made our intention clear' to agent Raiola, says Zorc

By Sports Desk April 01, 2021

Erling Haaland's agent Mino Raiola was pictured arriving in Barcelona on Thursday, but Borussia Dortmund director Michael Zorc insisted the club have "made our intentions clear" over the striker's future amid ongoing links with the LaLiga giants.

Barca are one of a number of elite teams to have been linked with the Norway international following a goal-laden 15-month spell with Dortmund that has seen him score 49 goals in 49 appearances.

Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Manchester United have also showed a reported interest in Haaland, who is believed to have a €75million release clause in his contract that comes into effect from 2022.

But talk of a move to Camp Nou at the end of this season intensified on Thursday after Spanish outlet Sport published a video showing Raiola and Haaland's father, Alf-Inge, emerging from an airport and being driven away in a private car.

It was reported that the driver is a member of Joan Laporta's staff, suggesting Raiola and Haaland senior were on the way to a meeting with the recently elected Barca president.

However, when questioned about the alleged meeting, Dortmund chief Zorc said he is "relaxed" about the 20-year-old's future and joked his entourage may have jetted to Catalonia for another reason entirely.

"I spoke to Mino Raiola yesterday. We've made our intentions very clear," he told Sport1

"There's no problem if Alfie and Mino want to sunbath on the Mediterranean Sea. I am relaxed because I know what we want!"

Speaking last week, Raiola suggested he was too cautious when moving star client Haaland from Salzburg to Dortmund in January 2020 and hinted the in-demand striker may seek pastures new in the next window.

Haaland has scored 21 goals in as many Bundesliga games this term, adding another 10 from six games in the Champions League, a competition in which he tops the scoring charts.

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    The Reds have a 3-0 deficit to overturn from the first leg if they are to make the semi-finals, a scenario which has echoes of their famous comeback to beat the Catalan side in a Champions League semi-final in May 2019 on their way to winning a sixth European Cup.

    After that victory his players remarked about the stirring speech he gave in the dressing room before kick-off and Klopp said, although he does not yet have anything planned, he can use that brilliant night at Anfield as a reference point even though they will not have the backing of a home crowd.

    “I usually don’t prepare these things like that, especially not the day before or four years before whatever,” he said.

    “I remember I said, ‘If we fail, then let’s fail in the most beautiful way’. And that’s exactly how I see it again.

    “After the game (last week) everyone in the stadium thought ‘that’s it’. Now it’s a week later I don’t think everyone thinks it is already decided

    “We want to win the game. If we want to win, we better play good. If we play good, we have a chance to win it. Then we will see.”

    That Barcelona victory is the only time in Liverpool’s long European history they have overturned a three-goal first leg deficit.

    However, they have never made such a comeback playing the second leg away from home and in the four first leg European ties they have lost at Anfield they have never progressed to the next round.

    Liverpool hammered Atalanta 5-0 at home in a behind-closed-doors Champions League group game during lockdown in November 2020 – having lost the home leg 2-0 – and Klopp hopes they can capitalise on any indecision the hosts may have about how to approach their seemingly comfortable lead.

    “Tomorrow is more difficult because they don’t have to score at all,” he added.

    “We will see who deals better with the situation. If Atalanta go through then they will deserve it. If not, then something special will have happened.

    “We have to do better. It’s really not simple because usually you fight for everything but when you are 3-0 up it is not easy for them.”

    Despite their significant advantage, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini is not underestimating the occasion as they seek to book only the second European semi-final spot in the club’s history.

    “We know that it will be one of the most important games in our history, if not the most important,” he told a press conference.

    “Even though we won the first leg, tomorrow we start again at 0-0. Our focus will have to be not to think about the result of the first leg.”

    Captain Marten De Roon added: “I don’t think only in Bergamo but I believe that all of Italy will be behind us tomorrow.”

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    Leao came in for criticism after last week’s first match, but showed a much better version of himself as Milan fought back from two goals down to take a 3-3 draw at relegation-battling Sassuolo on Sunday.

    The 24-year-old forward, who scored Milan’s first goal, recognises he needs to bring more consistency to his game.

    “I hope to help my team,” Leao told Milan TV.

    “If I don’t score a goal, I hope to play well and win. This is the most important thing, to move forward.

    “After the first leg, where I didn’t do very well, I was disappointed and with Sassuolo I wanted to give the right answer. If I make a mistake, I always try to come back even stronger, to learn from my mistakes.

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    Goalkeeper Mike Maignan is expected to return in goal after sitting out Sunday’s match as a precaution, but Simon Kjaer is a doubt after suffering a muscle injury in that match. Both he and fellow defender Pierre Kalulu missed training on Wednesday.

    Gianluca Mancini struck in the 17th minute as Roma took an impressive 1-0 victory at the San Siro last week, carrying on their good form since Daniele De Rossi replaced Jose Mourinho in the hotseat.

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    But De Rossi knows AC Milan are far from beaten as they prepare for the second leg in Rome.

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    “There are characteristics of the opponent that must always be respected and you need to think about the opponent’s coach’s moves. The first leg with Milan was quite balanced, perhaps it went a little better for us. Milan won’t change their tactics too much, but we must not overthink our own gameplan.

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    Leverkusen clinched the first title in the club’s history when they beat Werder Bremen 5-0 on Sunday.

    But their attention is now focused on defending a 2-0 lead in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final at West Ham.

    Hammers boss Moyes admitted he hoped the Leverkusen players might have indulged in a few too many steins of German beer.

    But Alonso revealed: “A few of them, probably. But not too many. We had control.

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    Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka managed to achieve what Harry Kane could not do by winning the title in his first season in Germany.

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    “Before you transfer to another country you speak with the club and the coach about the plan and the philosophy,” said Xhaka.

    “But of course how we are playing is unbelievable, more than people were thinking before the season. I’m proud to be a part of this team.”

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