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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s admiration for Erling Haaland is well publicised. After coaching his compatriot at Molde, the Manchester United manager was pleased to follow his progress ins Austria with RB Salzburg.
And when the opportunity came to bring him to Old Trafford, he went all out to land one of the most talented forwards in world football.
It is understood that the United boss flew out to meet Haaland and agent Mino Raiola, when Borussia Dortmund were closing in a move in December 2019.
Reports claimed that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward ultimately pulled the plug on any potential transfer due to clauses that his representatives wanted inserted into the deal.
That left him to free to join Dortmund in a deal worth £18million and has rarely looked back since making the move to Germany.
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In his first 36 games for the Bundesliga giants, Haaland has scored a staggering 35 times seeing his value exponentially rise.
Missing out on the forward feels like a genuine ‘what if’ moment for Solskjaer and United, but it has been revealed that wasn’t even the first time they missed the boat on his signature.
The Athletic report that Solskjaer sent a glowing review of Haaland back to Old Trafford bosses while he was coaching him at Molde.
He actually recommended United to sign him, but after the Red Devils sent their own scouting team, theur own feedback was less glowing and a deal wasn’t pursued.
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And the respect between former manager and player is certainly not a one-way street, with Haaland crediting Solskjaer with much of his development.
He recognises a stretch in 2018 as the ‘turning point’ in his career, with Solskjaer showing faith in the youngster.
“I remember it was frustrating as a young striker, everything goes against you in training,” Haaland told Eurosport last year.
“I was alone with the keeper and the bar, got crosses from Ole Gunnar, but I missed on every opportunity. I remember Ole then said ‘I think you start this game, so just be ready.’
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“Solskjaer and I did some practice on finishing. Not just crosses. I remember he taught me some easy rules,” he added.
“The first one was one-touch [finishes]. That I don’t use too much power and trying to destroy the goal or the goalie with ball.
“I think that I was thinking about doing that and it was something new that he told me. I trained a bit on that, but without scoring. But at least I had it in my head after that training session.
“He has taught me a lot to be calm, and also be on your toes and come to those situation where the ball is coming. It is then you have the chance to score. He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me that.”
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