The best teams in the world are circling Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who has 23 goals and six assists in 23 club appearances this season.

The 21-year-old Norwegian was ruled out of Barcelona's price range earlier this week by president Joan Laporta, but there are some clubs who can stomach the asking price.

While there will be an array of suitors investigating if a move will be possible for their club, Manchester City and Real Madrid are the most likely to put their money where their mouths are.

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER CITY HAVE UPPER HAND IN HAALAND SWEEPSTAKES

ESPN is reporting City are "optimistic they can see off competition from Real Madrid" in the race for Haaland's services.

City are said to be in the market for a striker, and are confident they can pay the reported €75million release clause in Haaland's Dortmund contract.

After the departures of Angelino, Ferran Torres and Jack Harrison for a combined €85m, City are in a position of financial strength heading into the upcoming transfer period.

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have reignited their chase of Villareal defender Pau Torres, according to 90min. Torres was a target for the Red Devils before they ultimately signed Raphael Varane back in August.

Barcelona will look to bring in French forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer after his contract expires at Arsenal after this season, reports Diario SPORT.

– Football Insider is reporting Aston Villa are planning on spending more than £150m in the next transfer window, breaking their previous spending record.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident in retaining the services of defender Antonio Rudiger with a new contract, according to Goal.

– El Nacional is reporting Real Madrid believe they can land Arsenal target Karim Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg.

Dusan Vlahovic joins Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as "the best players of their generation", according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri signed Serbia international Vlahovic from Fiorentina in January in a transfer initially worth €70million, and the striker has managed four goals in his first seven Serie A games for his new club.

The former Viola star also netted 33 times in the league in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top flight during a calendar year.

Indeed, his 21-goal league haul last season was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25), and he has carried that form into the new campaign as well.

Vlahovic has registered 21 goals across appearances for Juve and Fiorentina in Serie A this season, making him the league's joint-top scorer – level with Ciro Immobile – while only Robert Lewandowski (31) and Karim Benzema (22) have scored more in Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland, who has been limited by injuries at Borussia Dortmund, is ninth in the same list with 16 Bundesliga goals, striking once every 81 minutes on average, while Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe is 11th with 15 to his name in the French top flight.

Allegri hailed the youthful trio as he expressed his excitement to see Vlahovic develop more.

"He is a young player with not much international experience. But he has quality. He wants and can improve. He has time to do it," Allegri said of Vlahovic in an interview with GQ, as quoted by CalcioMercato.

"He is ruthless in front of the goal and Juventus made an important signing. He, Mbappe and Haaland are the best players of their generation."

While there were expectations that Vlahovic's arrival may knock Alvaro Morata down the pecking order of Juve strikers, Allegri reiterated that the Spain international remains integral to his plans in Turin.

"I called him that night [when Juve signed Vlahovic] to tell him: 'You are going nowhere, with him, you will become even more important,' and that's what happened," Allegri added on Morata.

"It's crazy to question Morata. He can't be at his best if he is asked to do things that he can't. But he's always been available playing in a position which is not exactly the best one for him."

Allegri will be hoping for Morata and Vlahovic to link-up once more when Juve, who are fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, host Inter on Sunday.

Manchester City have not yet made an approach for Erling Haaland, though Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke knows that any offer the Premier League champions did make would be unmatchable for the Bundesliga club.

Haaland is reportedly City's priority target ahead of next season, as Pep Guardiola looks to bring in a top-class striker.

The 21-year-old has had a stop-start campaign with Dortmund due to injuries, but has still scored 23 times in as many matches, averaging a goal every 77 minutes across all competitions.

Haaland has been a sensation since signing for Dortmund in the middle of the 2019-20 season, though seems likely to leave the club at the end of the campaign when a €75million buy-out clause in his contract reportedly kicks in.

City, along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, have been heavily linked. Watzke, however, insisted no official approach has yet been made by any club.

Dortmund's chief executive is under no illusion, though, that the club would be unable to compete financially should City make an offer. But he is confident that BVB's model of investing in new talent after losing star players will continue to prove fruitful.

Speaking to Sport Bild, Watzke said: "I've given up judging media rumours. Otherwise, my day would have to have 36 hours.

 

"We don't currently know anything specific from the player side, nor has anyone approached us. However, we cannot keep up financially if Manchester City comes in [for Haaland].

"We've seen it a few times: we lost [Robert] Lewandowski to Bayern in 2014 and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang to Arsenal in 2018.

"We've always created a new star. If Haaland leaves, we will find another new talent and develop it into a star, and that will also do the Bundesliga good."

Watzke would not comment on any potential targets for Dortmund, though.

Haaland scored twice in Norway's 9-0 hammering of Armenia on Tuesday, having previously netted for his country in last week's 2-0 win over Slovakia.

Now, the striker's immediate focus will be on helping Dortmund push Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race, with Marco Rose's team – who face RB Leipzig in a huge game on Saturday – trailing the league leaders by six points.

Jack Grealish is in awe of England team-mate Jude Bellingham, labelling his abilities as "scary" for one so young.

Bellingham played the full 90 minutes as the Three Lions beat 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley on Tuesday, catching the eye as he featured in an advanced role ahead of James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice.

It was Bellingham's 12th senior cap, with England winning every single match he has played in – only Theo Walcott (14 matches) has enjoyed a longer winning start to his Three Lions career than the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

Bellingham is in his second season in the Bundesliga with Dortmund and has already established himself as a key player, making 25 league starts from a possible 27.

Links to other major European clubs have been frequent for the youngster, and Grealish could not hide the admiration he holds for his fellow West Midlands-native after a mature performance.

Asked if he had ever played alongside a teenager as good as Bellingham, Grealish told reporters: "I haven't actually. It is scary how good he is at 18.

"He is just so mature. He is built like he is my age at 26. He has so much technical ability and he is mature for his age.

"I can tell you one thing, I was nowhere near as good at 18. I was at Notts County [on loan from Aston Villa] and I was a scrawny little thing as well.

"You see talented 18 or 19-year-old kids but not many are that mature as he is on the pitch. He is so versatile and can play in many different positions on the pitch.

"He can be a six, eight or a 10. It was good to play with him and I think it was my first time playing with him. It is nice to play with a fellow Brummie."

Despite inking a new sponsorship deal with Spotify, improving on Barcelona's rejuvenation under Xavi will not force the club to spend unsustainably.

Xavi's side have made positive strides, finding form and re-establishing the club's identity, creating scope for Barcelona to become a destination for players.

The front three seems likely to transform under Xavi coming into next season, with the respective statuses of Memphis Depay, Ousmane Dembele, Adama Traore and Antoine Griezmann uncertain. However, the question of cost lingers.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA RENEW RAPHINHA OFFER

Barcelona's interest in Raphinha is being translated into offers for the Brazilian winger, but Sport reports the Premier League do not at present have a financial need to sell.

According to the Barcelona sports daily, Leeds turned down an initial offer of €35million (£30m), prompting the Blaugrana to increase to €40million (£34m) plus €10m (£8m) in options.

If Leeds suffer relegation, however, the release clause for the 25-year-old would be reduced to €25m (£21m).

It is also reported Barca would not necessarily be in a hurry, with Leeds currently 16th in the Premier League, while they could lean on Raphinha's agent and former Champions League winner, Deco.

ROUND-UP

– Paul Pogba will need to take a significant pay cut if he wants to join Juventus from Manchester United, per Calciomercato.

Real Madrid have identified Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham , despite his links with a move to Liverpool, according to reports in Bild.

– The Times have reported Brentford want to extend the six-month deal for 30-year-old Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen.

– If Erik ten Hag takes over as Manchester United manager, he is keen on signing Brazilian winger Antony from Ajax, per The Telegraph.

Joan Laporta would be keen to sign either Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe – but only if they wanted to join Barcelona and presented more reasonable financial demands.

Both Haaland and Mbappe could be on the move at the end of this season, with Europe's biggest clubs positioning themselves to sign the best forwards of their generation.

Haaland is widely thought to have a €75million release clause at Borussia Dortmund, while Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain contract will expire – even if the Ligue 1 giants are trying to agree a renewal.

The exciting pair therefore represent relatively cheap signings on the face of it, but both would require significant outlays in terms of wages and agents' fees.

For that reason, Barca president Laporta is struggling to see how either could arrive at Camp Nou.

"Haaland or Mbappe? If I had to choose, I would stick with what I have clearly stated," Laporta told RAC1. "The one who makes it clear they want to play for Barca, the one who wants to come here.

"For the time being, neither of the two has expressed that to me. If they don't feel like it, it will be difficult.

"What has been expressed to me is the conditions about these two deals. We would never accept to spend those figures, no way."

Barcelona's financial restrictions led to the release of Lionel Messi to PSG last year, with a move to bring the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner back also ruled out by Laporta.

Barcelona are reportedly too restricted by LaLiga financial rules to enter the race for the world's best players, even after inking a deal with Spotify worth up to $235million.

Xavi's side have gone from strength to strength recently, finding form and re-establishing Barcelona as a prime destination, with a number of strong signings rumoured to be heading to Camp Nou in the next transfer window.

While there may be interest in bringing in the biggest names in the world, Barcelona supporters will likely need to lower their expectations.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OUT OF SALAH RACE

It was reported that Barcelona have interest in signing Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, but The Daily Mirror claims that it will not be possible due to LaLiga's financial rules.

Salah – who boasts 28 goals and 10 assists in 36 matches for Liverpool this season – is likely to fetch a price similar to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who Barcelona president Joan Laporta ruled out when talking with RAC 1, as well as Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, due to the lofty figures.

While Barca may not be willing to fork out €100m for a single signing, they are rumoured to have agreed to terms with Robert Lewandowski, who could fetch up to €60m at 33 years old, as well as Franck Kessie and Cesar Azpilicueta, with further interest in Ajax's Antony and Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

ROUND-UP

– Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Premier League strikers Timo Werner and Anthony Martial from Chelsea and Manchester United, according to 90Min.

– According to The Sun, Newcastle United are keen on signing Watford's Ismaila Sarr in the upcoming transfer window in a deal believed to be worth around £35m.

– Leeds United have placed an asking price of £67m on Brazilian winger Raphinha, per The Daily Mirror, with The Athletic also reporting that the club insists his only release clause is triggered if the Whites are relegated from the Premier League.

– Calciomercato is reporting that Arsenal and Atletico Madrid will be competing for the signature of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, with the Italian club said to be interested if the fee hits £58m.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Paulo Dybala is interested in joining Atletico Madrid when his contract expires after this season, and while Inter also have interest, they would need to sell Martinez to do so.

Arsenal continue their rejuvenation under Mikel Arteta, but a striker is becoming a positional need.

After his relationship with Arteta soured, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left for Barcelona during the January transfer window and has found verve under Xavi.

Although Alexandre Lacazette has been a compatible fit for Arsenal, he and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract at the end of the season, and the Gunners may look to Old Trafford. 

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL TO MOVE FOR RASHFORD

Arsenal are preparing an approach for Manchester United star Marcus Rashford in an attempt to bolster their stocks up front, according to The Mirror.

The Gunners were linked with a number of forwards during January, including Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, but it appears Rashford's status at Old Trafford has shifted following United's Champions League exit.

The 24-year-old has one year plus an option for a further season on his current deal, but appears to be a peripheral figure under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rashford has made just 10 starts in the Premier League this season and scored only five goals across all competitions. 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City and Real Madrid are in best position to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, but the 21-year-old has rejected City's first offer, AS reports.

- Barcelona could offer versatile defender Oscar Mingueza as part of a package to land Leeds United winger Raphinha, Sport has reported.

- Juventus have shown their interest in Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger as they aim to replace Giorgio Chiellini, according to The Sun.

- The Daily Mail are reporting that Inter are keen to sign Juve's Paulo Dybala, who will be out of contract at the end of the season and is not having his deal renewed.

Barcelona have re-established themselves this term after a strong January transfer window.

Barca head coach Xavi, appointed in November, has overseen a major form reversal culminating in last week's 4-0 Clasico win.

The Blaugrana have their sights set on more additions as they continue to re-build after Lionel Messi's exit last year.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA SET SIGHTS ON SALAH

Barcelona boss Xavi is determined to land Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , claims Mundo Deportivo.

The cash-strapped Catalans have switched their attention from the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Salah is yet to re-sign with Liverpool where he is out of contract in 2023.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he will not put the club at financial risk in order to sign Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano for Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool will not pursue West Ham United's Declan Rice amid interest from several clubs in the England international midfielder, claims Football Insider.

- Leeds United has rejected a £29million bid from  Barcelona  for 25-year-old Brazilian winger  Raphinha , whose release clause is set at £60million, according to Sport.

- Arsenal midfielder  Granit Xhaka  remains a transfer target for  Roma head coach Jose Mourinho, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to the Daily Mail, Wolves and Portugal winger  Pedro Neto  is on  Paris Saint-Germain's  wanted list.

Joan Laporta says Barcelona being linked with a move for Kylian Mbappe is "part of the show business of football" and vowed the club will not "lose our heads" in the transfer market.

Real Madrid are strong favourites to sign Mbappe when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires at the end of the season.

Barca have reportedly emerged as contenders to lure the France striker to LaLiga in a move that would be hard to take for their fierce rivals.

But Blaugrana president Laporta brushed of talk of the Catalan giants landing the prolific 23-year-old as a free agent.

He told Mundo Deportivo: "I think this is part of the show business of football, I have nothing to say about it."

Laporta added: "Here, everyone is free to launch messages and proclamations and we already know that this is part of the world of football, that the big clubs are interested in great players. 

"But I'm not going to start, and you have to allow me not to, to talk about players because if I do, the only thing I can do is harm the interests of our club. 

"If we talk about a player and we had the intention of signing him, we would increase the price. Neither with this player nor with others do I want to comment on issues because it would harm the interests of the club. 

"The technical secretary and sports management are working to improve our squad, which is getting better and better, we are more and more satisfied. 

"I want it to be clearly understood that we prioritise the team above all else, a team reinforced in each of its lines and what we do not participate in is raising players or looking for players who are more than the team. 

"What we want to strengthen is the team we have that plays based on a genuine Barca system. The club thinks that this is what the football team needs, this genuine style that for me is the key to everything and is what we have to do, a team that can play this system with highly talented players."

Barca lost Lionel Messi due to the club's huge financial troubles and Laporta says there is no chance they will be reckless with recruitment. 

He added: "I insist, I will not talk about specific players but I can tell you that we will not carry out any operation that puts the institution at risk. 

"It has been a maxim that we have followed since I became president again, it happened to us in various circumstances and we are going to continue with this philosophy and this criterion, not to put the institution at risk with operations that we wouldn't do, even if we were already healthy.

"So, you can talk about players, about big-money operations in which Barca is not going to lose its head. The partners are calm because we are not going to lose our heads for an operation of these magnitudes. 

"Most of the players want to come to Barca, they like the club, the team, our philosophy, our way of working, our understanding football. And this is good, we are verifying it in many cases and daily. 

"They will have to adapt to Barca's salary levels and to an economic structure of the operation that maintains the sustainability and balance of the club."

Pedri wants Erling Haaland to join Barcelona when he leaves Borussia Dortmund. 

Haaland's Dortmund contract does not expire until 2024, but he reportedly has a release clause that means he could be signed for €75million at the end of this season. 

Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been heavily linked with a move for the Norway striker. 

Haaland has scored 80 goals in 82 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020, winning the Golden Boy award that year. 

That prolific goalscoring record is the main reason Pedri – who was named the 2021 Golden Boy – hopes Haaland's next move sees him end up at Camp Nou. 

"It's something for the club. But Haaland has great qualities and almost everything he touches ends up in the goal," Pedri told TVE. 

"I hope he can come because I've always said I want the best players at Barca." 

Barca had no trouble in front of goal on Sunday, though, as they overcame LaLiga leaders Real Madrid 4-0 in El Clasico. The gap between the teams now stands at 12 points, with the Blaugrana possessing a game in hand. 

Following the resounding triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu, Pedri is refusing to give up on finishing top of the pile this season. 

"We have to try to win everything and make them lose and put pressure on them. We can win the league, I won't say we can't," he said. 

Pedri is on international duty with Spain, who take on Albania and Iceland in friendlies on Saturday and Tuesday with their place at the 2022 World Cup already secured. 

Luis Enrique's side are among the favourites to go all the way in Qatar, and Pedri feels a triumphant campaign is the only way for Spain to feel successful. 

"A good result would be to win the World Cup, but it's a very difficult competition. We'll take it one game at a time and hopefully put another star on the badge," he said. 

Julian Weigl was taken aback by his recall to the Germany squad after a five-year absence, having previously been considered a potential future superstar.

Weigl rose to prominence at Borussia Dortmund, earning his first senior Germany cap 14 months after moving to BVB from 1860 Munich in 2015 as a 19-year-old.

His form during his first couple of seasons in the Bundesliga drew links with some of Europe's biggest clubs, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City apparently particularly keen on the talented deep-lying playmaker.

But he struggled to maintain that level after Thomas Tuchel's exit and was frustrated by untimely injuries, ultimately falling out of favour and being sold to Benfica for a reported €20million in January 2020.

The move was indicative of the decline in Weigl's reputation and he was being linked with another move less than a year after joining Benfica due to early struggles with Jorge Jesus.

But this season he has become a key figure and played in seven of Benfica's eight matches en route to the Champions League quarter-finals, helping him back into the Germany setup.

"When the coach called me, I was with my team-mate Soualiho Meite. I couldn't believe that Hansi [Flick] had called me and that I'd missed it," he told reporters.

"I knew I had to call him back. I was absolutely thrilled, we chatted for a short while and then I immediately rang my parents and my wife. They were some emotional phone calls. My family and my wife were also over the moon.

"I was extremely pleased when I got the call from Hansi. I wasn't expecting it. When you're putting in good performances for your club, you do get your hopes up a little bit, but it still came as a surprise.

"I was looking forward to seeing the lads again, and so I arrive here with a really positive energy. I've always looked out for when the national squad gets announced, and I'm more than aware that you have to be performing at the top level at your club week-in, week-out to earn your selection.

"But I never once said to myself at any time that my performances deserved to be rewarded with a call-up – I simply tried to keep concentration on myself and my game. Because of that, the eventual call-up was even more of a pleasant surprise."

Despite the promise he showed early on at Dortmund, Weigl only ever featured five times for Germany.

His most recent outing was 66 minutes in a friendly with England way back in March 2017 – now 26, Weigl does not think his playing style has changed significantly, but leaving Germany helped him grow and he feels better physically.

"Generally speaking, I'm still the same player," he continued. "What's changed is that I've become more mature and more experienced – playing abroad has certainly helped me in this regard, as well as becoming a father.

"My daughter helps me to relax, as my life is so fast-paced. I've improved from a physical perspective, too."

Weigl's recall comes at a potentially critical moment as well. With the World Cup starting in less than eight months, the midfielder surely has a genuine opportunity of being in the selection that travels to Qatar.

He is now focused on proving to Flick that he is worthy of consideration.

"I'm trying to show off what I can do every day that I'm here, as well as take on board the ideas of the head coach and work them into my game," he said.

"I'm asking for the ball a lot in the sessions and I'm not afraid to do so, because that's how I'm going to prove to the head coach that I'm a serious option for the World Cup squad, because I can be relied upon at any time and that I can put in a solid performance when needed."

Germany, who have already qualified for the World Cup, will face Israel and the Netherlands in friendlies during this international window.

Barcelona are determined to keep Erling Haaland out of Real Madrid's clutches and view a deal for the Borussia Dortmund striker as "difficult, but not impossible".

Signs are pointing to Haaland leaving Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, with Barcelona, Madrid and Manchester City all thought to be keen to sign the Norwegian striker.

There is the worrying potential scenario for Barcelona of Madrid signing Kylian Mbappe as well as Haaland, to reinforce attacking options that already include Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

It might be beyond Madrid's means to attract both in-demand frontman to the Santiago Bernabeu, given the financial implications of such deals, and Barcelona are having to work out what they themselves can afford to spend.

Financial struggles at Camp Nou have seen the club have to tread carefully in the transfer market, although they have enabled head coach Xavi to strengthen with the likes of Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore.

Speaking on Cadena Ser radio, Barcelona president Joan Laporta's advisor, Enric Masip, also said it was not beyond the realm of possibility that Lionel Messi could return to the club in a playing capacity. Record-breaking captain Messi was forced out last summer, when Barcelona realised they could not afford to register him.

Masip said of potential transfer movement: "The signing of Haaland is difficult, but not impossible. Many circumstances have to be met to be able to sign him. The club, despite the economic situation, are looking for formulas to continue making signings.

"I refer to the words that the president said: the club is in a position to be able to sign, but obviously, there have to be movements. For someone to come, someone has to leave.

"That is in the hands of the technical secretariat and then later there is the economic part. Speaking of Haaland, he is a player who has enormous quality and is a true '9'. At a football level, he is a player who would always be interesting in any big team."

Masip added, according to Mundo Deportivo: "I would prefer that Mbappe and Haaland don't get together in Madrid."

 

Since the day of Haaland's Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020, the Leeds-born forward has managed 80 goals in 82 club games across all competitions, putting him second among players from Europe's top five leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Serie A).

Only Robert Lewandowski (118 goals in 99 games for Bayern Munich) has managed more, with Haaland three ahead of Mbappe and five clear of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi sits eighth on that list with 60 goals in 97 matches, while he also sits third for assists in the same period (38 – beaten only by Bruno Fernandes' 39 and Thomas Muller's 51) and has hit the woodwork more than anyone (27 times).

Regarding a possible return for Messi, Masip said: "Nothing is impossible, but there have been no winks as such from the club."

Messi is enduring a tough first season at Paris Saint-Germain and has scored just two Ligue 1 goals for the French league leaders. The Argentinian hit a record 672 goals for Barcelona.

He signed a two-year deal with PSG in August 2021, with an option for a third year.

Haaland appears a likelier acquisition for Barcelona than Messi, although the club's tune appears to change regularly when it comes to talk of the prolific Dortmund frontman.

Laporta earlier this month seemed to dampen expectation of such a deal, given the hefty cost involved.

"Even if we had the best economic situation, there are operations we would not do," Laporta told Esport3.

Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose explained that Erling Haaland knows he is still missing an edge following his return from injury, but has full confidence in the striker.

Haaland started for the first time since January 22 on Sunday, as Dortmund were held to a 1-1 draw at Cologne to dent their hopes of mounting a Bundesliga title challenge.

It was hardly a vintage display from the 21-year-old, who managed as many touches in his own box as Cologne's (four), while he missed both of Dortmund's best opportunities based on Opta's expected goals (xG) model.

Haaland, who may well be entering his final few months at BVB, drilled wide in the first half when one-on-one with Marvin Schwabe, who stood firm against the forward after the break, denying Dortmund's number nine from close range.

Those opportunities had a combined xG of 0.73. Essentially, Haaland had a 73 per cent chance of getting a goal from those chances

However, with Haaland getting 87 minutes under his belt before making way for Reinier Jesus, Rose has no doubt his star man will return to his best form after the international break.

"I'll start with Erling," Rose told a news conference. "I think the game was important for Erling. You must create chances, which he did once today with a big one.

"He had a good game. I briefly talked to him, and he knows that he's still missing something. But I think we're on a good path and he will score again if he returns healthy from the international break."

 

Dortmund are unbeaten in their last six Bundesliga games but have dropped valuable points against Augsburg and now Cologne during that run, allowing Bayern Munich – who thrashed Union Berlin 4-0 on Saturday – to move six points clear at the top.

"I just said it in the interview outside, I will play this game with you. If we lose a game, you say 'you screwed up', then we win a game and Bayern drops points and I get asked if we are involved again in the title race," Rose said.

"So, it's almost a running gag now. We like to be up there and want to win games. We didn't win, so we are disappointed. The result of not winning football games is that the gap between Bayern and us is growing.

"But we also already had game days like last week where we got closer. We have seven more games after the international break. We play [RB] Leipzig at home in a sold-out stadium. We want to get the maximum out of this season."

Michael Laudrup has questioned whether Barcelona need to sign Erling Haaland and is unsure whether the Norwegian would suit Xavi's style of play.

The Borussia Dortmund striker, who has hit 16 Bundesliga goals at a rate of just 75.31 minutes per goal this campaign, has been linked with a close-season move to many of Europe's biggest clubs.

Barcelona have been touted as a possible destination for the 21-year-old, but club president Joan Laporta recently suggested that such a transfer might be beyond the Catalan Giants, saying he wouldn't "do deals that could put the institution at risk".

Former Blaugrana forward Laudrup, who scored 40 league goals during a five-year spell at Camp Nou between 1989 and 1994, pondered whether Haaland's attributes would suit the patient passing game preferred by head coach and Barca legend Xavi.

"I have doubts as to whether he [Xavi] needs a striker like him," Laudrup told Catalonian radio station RAC1.

"I don't argue with Haaland as a goalscorer. He's incredible. He keeps scoring and scoring and it's no coincidence. The only thing is that he is a very physical player who needs a little space. 

"He is not the ideal player [for Barcelona], he does not participate with the ball and in combinations in narrow spaces. He has to play in a team that plays and then gives him balls. 

"He will always score goals in any team but I have doubts about how he plays compared to how he plays with Barca".

Ahead of their huge Clasico clash with Real Madrid on Sunday, Barcelona have taken 34 points from 15 games in LaLiga since Xavi took over as coach, a record bettered only by Madrid, who have taken 39 points in that period.

 

Barcelona were languishing in ninth place in LaLiga when Xavi's predecessor Ronald Koeman departed, but Laudrup, who won the 1992 European Cup alongside Koeman as part of Johan Cruyff's legendary Blaugrana side, says his former team-mate did not get the same level of backing from the club's hierarchy as Xavi has.

"I haven't spoken with him [Koeman] recently," Laudrup added. "But I have followed Barca also in Ronald's time and his moment was a difficult moment for Barcelona, due to the debt, Messi's goodbye. 

"Ronald came at the most difficult time for Barcelona in recent years. He had a lot of problems. 

"Now Xavi has come and things have improved, the easiest thing is to say that with Xavi things are going much better. Xavi will be a great coach, and I'm not saying this to defend Ronald, but in his [Koeman's] time, due to some circumstances, there were no chances of signing [new players]. 

"Now with Xavi in January, Ferran [Torres] arrived, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and Adama [Traore]. You have to remember those chances that Xavi has had, Ronald didn't have.

"Justice in football, sometimes [it] exists and sometimes [it] doesn't. Ronald will have had his faults, like everyone else, but he hasn't had the squad possibilities that there are now with Xavi."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.