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 unsuccessfully tried to convince Tottenham to sell Harry Kane in the summer of 2021 and ended up sailing the 2021/22 season without a recognized centre-forward.
The Premier League champions then moved early in the 2022 summer window to bring in Haaland to fill that void. The Norwegian was also targeted by Barcelona, who pulled out over finances and eventually signed Robert Lewandowski, and Real Madrid.
But he chose Manchester City. Not only is City the club he grew up with – his father Alf-Inge Haaland played for the club from 2000 to 2003 – it was also the best choice at the time.
“You can’t really [say no to Real Madrid],” Alf-Inge admitted in Viaplay’s new documentary Haaland: The Choice.
But the father and agent went on to explain why Real was not the right fit for his son.
“We mean the criterion of who needs a ‘9’? Manchester City have 10, it’s a perfect choice, while Real Madrid have 5 or 6 because Benzema is playing now. Will they manage to sign Mbappe?” said the former defender.
Real president Florentino Perez offered a similar reasoning for why Haaland didn’t end up in Madrid when he spoke about it in June: “We have nine of the best in the world and we weren’t going to bring Haaland to have him on the bench. right?”
In the end, Real did not sign Mbappe, who instead signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain. But Benzema is still going strong after scoring more than 40 goals for the first time in his career in 2021/22 – with four more in five games in 2022/23.
Haaland, meanwhile, started his Manchester City career with 10 goals in seven games.