Haaland misses Sancho: Borussia Dortmund’s world star is back

Haaland misses Sancho
Borussia Dortmund’s world star is back

By Stephan Uersfeld

He is one of the most sought-after players in the world. He’s still running for Borussia Dortmund. The transfer saga will be entertained until the end of the transfer window. But for now he’s back on Adi-Preissler-Allee. Erling Haaland is Borussia’s world star.

Over the summer, Erling Haaland played on his Instagram account as he usually did on the defensive rows in the Bundesliga. Sometimes he was a flamingo and sometimes he was a cow host. The Norwegian knows how to entertain his fans. When he was back at Borussia Dortmund, he quickly stuck on a mustache. He must have met his BVB team-mate Mahmoud Dahoud by then. At the beginning of this long, long pandemic period, he had provided fashionable accents and also distracted from the lack of spectators in the stands of the Westfalenstadion. They’ll be back soon. And Erling Haaland is still there.

Much to the delight of the fans, who want to experience at least for one season what happens when the Norwegian heaves the ball into the corner again or crushes one of his teammates while celebrating a goal. Everything that the almost 21-year-old does has this irrepressible violence, this power that an entire stadium can carry, just like at one of the few games in a sold-out Westfalenstadion. Staged by Gio Reyna, it finished brilliantly from 18 meters. The ball flew past Keylor Navas in the Paris Saint-Germain gate and slammed against the rear post, so loud that the whole stadium vibrated (take a look here again). In memory. It was Dortmund’s last big bang before the pandemic.

The pandemic is coming, Haaland will stay the same

Then everything changed. The games wandered behind closed doors, against Paris BVB was knocked out in the second leg of the Champions League, at some point the Swiss coach Lucien Favre, a nice person who was accused of lack of courage and ambition, had to leave. In all the changes, one thing remained the same: Erling Haaland. He just carried on. A mentality monster, he scored goals, got angry like no other, always wanted more. When Dortmund lost connection to the Champions League ranks in March and April, his notorious advisor Mino Raiola flirted with a change. He toured Spain, knocking on the door of Barcelona and then Real. The photographers were informed. It was a signal: Champions League or change!

Then worked with the Champions League. Not just because of Haaland. Because he was injured in the stands on the 32nd matchday in what was probably the decisive 3-2 win against Rasenballsport Leipzig and was beside himself with joy: Jadon Sancho’s winning goal in the 87th minute led to real storms of enthusiasm, Sky played his cheers over and over again as a split screen. It was so emotional, so powerful. Later he ran into the square. He hugged his teammate. For a few days they shared the goals to the 4-1 victory in the cup final, again against Leipzig, brotherly. Haaland twice, Sancho twice. Dortmund’s first title since 2017, with trainer Edin Terzic. In his six months on the sidelines, he had achieved something that his numerous predecessors did not want to do: he had made Borussia’s coaching father Jürgen Klopp forget. With his way, with his fairytale-like story of the boy’s ascent from the south stand to one who makes it down to the square.

The biggest star in the league

It’s all over now. Dahoud’s mustache has long been history, Edin Terzic is now technical director and Jadon Sancho is no longer a BVB player. So soon, when his € 85 million move to Manchester United has taken place. Erling Haaland is still there. Despite the countless transfer rumors, the fantasy sums that clubs like Chelsea supposedly want to put on the table when they prepare an offer again, as the English boulevard so likes to report. Then there is talk of 175 million euros, which, if you add the salary over five years and the consulting costs, makes a total volume of certainly over 300 million euros. Not very realistic. Probably. So Haaland is the constant at BVB and by the way probably the biggest star in the league, despite Robert Lewandowski and despite Thomas Müller. He embodies the future of football like no other in the world.

It is therefore not surprising that his first public statements about the new season are being played from distant channels to Germany. As you should expect, they revolve around Jadon Sancho. “Jadon and I got on very well. He’s a top player. Of course it’s sad that he’s leaving. But that’s football,” says Haaland, not just to anyone, but to the Malaysian YouTube channel “Stadium Astro”. Although he has lost a friend and a congenial partner on the pitch in the English international, he is looking to the new season full of optimism: “We have a lot of other players with whom I get along well. It will get even better.”

One of these new players could be Youssoufa Moukoko, who should return to training soon after his syndesmosis injury and who is currently keeping the local press in Dortmund busy with his driving lessons. “As far as I can judge after the first driving lesson, Moukoko seems to beat my best learner drivers a bit,” his driving instructor recently explained in the “Ruhr Nachrichten”. Last year, shortly before Moukoko’s debut one day after his 16th birthday, Haaland had set the bar similarly high for the place. “I think he’s the greatest talent in the world right now,” said the Norwegian.

Dortmund’s face will change again in the summer of 2022

Both together in the storm. That is a possibility under the new coach Marco Rose. He wants to “protect Moukoko and build it up carefully” without “slowing him down in any way”. It will be just as exciting to watch as Rose’s arrival at the Westfalenstadion, where 25,000 spectators are expected at the start of the season against Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-August. Haaland is looking forward to the “nice guy” Rose, who still has to earn respect from the fans in the south stand. They see him too much as a trainer from the Red Bull school. This is rarely recognized in Dortmund. For Haaland, who knows Rose from Salzburg, this means: “Hard training, a lot of pressing, a lot of running and a lot of attacking.” That would then also convince the fans, who, so it is heard, will soon have to deal with lawn ball defender Marcel Halstenberg.

The international could replace Nico Schulz on the left. For him, like for keeper Roman Bürki, a club has to be found. The Brazilian Reinier could also leave BVB this year. The first year of his loan from Real Madrid was unsatisfactory. For this purpose, Eindhoven’s Donyell Malen is to come in the storm. For this, however, Sancho’s departure must first be official. “The probability is high that we will get another player in this transfer window,” said Michael Zorc at the weekend. The sports director has been the face of Borussia for decades.

He convinced Haaland from BVB, he led Borussia to the current plateau as a training club for world-class players and he will leave Borussia next summer. After living on Bundesstrasse 1, which separates the stadium from Dortmund city center. His successor, Sebastian Kehl, will have to follow in big footsteps. Haaland is not made for living on B1. He, too, will most likely not appear for BVB in the 2022/2023 season. Until then, he will entertain the hopefully well-attended ranks of the Westfalenstadion with his goals and not only draw attention to himself on Instagram with his fashion.