Erling Haaland’s imminent move to Manchester City was officially announced on May 10.
Two weeks later he was on a private jet to Manchester, where he dined with club officials, began exploring potential new homes and spent a full morning at the City Football Academy.
Almost a month after City’s quiet confirmation that an ‘agreement in principle’ was in place for Haaland to join them from Borussia Dortmund on July 1, no official video of the striker wearing his shirt has been released.
Manchester City can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of striker Erling Haaland to the club on July 1, 2022.
The transfer remains subject to the conditions of finalization of the Club with the player.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 10, 2022
Cue the desperation of City fans on social media, relentlessly asking for any updates and #AnnounceHaaland becoming a common hashtag.
A self-recorded video of Haaland Sunday nodding towards the Oasis Wonderwall is the closest we have so far.
So what happened?
Two weeks ago, the 21-year-old was spotted by club staff walking around the training ground facilities dressed in City gear, ready to take part in his unveiling photoshoot.
All contents are in the box and ready to use. But it’s not online yet as Haaland, on and off the pitch, is a special case.
“As soon as he’s a City player, the content will come,” a source said, although there don’t appear to be any legal hurdles in terms of agreeing personal terms or making further announcements before July 1.
More relevant is City’s desire to squeeze every drop of impact from signing a global superstar.
A special unveiling event dedicated to the Norwegian is planned which will culminate in a meeting with the fans – similar to those enjoyed by Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Rodri and Joao Cancelo when they came to the club.
This will come after a social media campaign, which could start as early as early next week.
However, the city needs to make sure things are done the right way.
Haaland is currently out with the Norway national team and scored three goals in his opening two 2022-23 Nations League matches to help them to two wins and six points. His tally of international goals now stands at 18 from 19 appearances.
After two more games, both at home in Oslo, against Slovenia and Sweden on Thursday and Sunday, Haaland will enter his summer break. He is not expected to return to Manchester until early next month.
Another key factor for City is the number that will appear on the back of their shirt.
There’s still no confirmation of what number Haaland will wear next season – and that’s very important from a shirt sales and marketing perspective. For City, having the chance to sell products perfectly labeled for the occasion would be a golden opportunity.
Haaland has worn number 9 for the past two seasons at Dortmund and it’s no secret it would be his preferred choice at Manchester as well.
It was revealed earlier this season that he and his side are very keen on him also wearing the No.9 with Norway to maximize his brand power. He’s been doing it since March.
But at the Etihad Stadium, Gabriel Jesus currently wears that coveted shirt number. The Brazilian’s future at the club is uncertain and City won’t stand in his way if a suitable offer is on the table, with his contract running out in 2023.
However, the first-team unit has a very clear position: as long as Jesus is a City player, they don’t want him stripped of his shirt number.
It would send the wrong message to the rest of the dressing room, with the players preferring any change of number to be done in a more natural way.
At Manchester United, for example, Cristiano Ronaldo reclaimed the No.7 shirt he previously wore for Edinson Cavani’s club when he returned last summer after 12 years in Spain and Italy, the striker Uruguayan dropping to No. 21.
The Jesus camp, however, has been considering its options for a long time.
Athleticism revealed last month that Arsenal were exploring options to sign him and that their manager, Mikel Arteta, was a huge admirer of the Brazilian during Pep Guardiola’s time as City assistant. Arsenal’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League has made the north London club less desirable, but they will remain an option.
The 25-year-old wants regular first-team minutes whether he stays or leaves. Jesus hasn’t been able to establish himself as a solid starter in his five-and-a-half years at the Etihad – not even after Sergio Aguero left last summer – and there is a World Cup just around the corner.
Jesus has reclaimed his place in the Brazil squad after being sent off for their March fixtures, but he needs more game time to keep it that way. And Haaland’s arrival is another big hurdle in his bid to compete with Guardiola’s other frontline options.
In Manchester, they know that Jesus has been watched by several clubs across Europe. Given his age and his performance on big occasions this season, City would expect to get upwards of £40million if he moved on this summer.
“He’s worth every penny,” added a senior source.
A rock star unveiling event full of Haaland No 9 branded shirts would certainly be worth it too.
(Top photo: Annelie Cracchiolo/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)