Borussia Dortmund used their own players, Puma’s CEO and a structured career development plan during their three-year scouting mission to convince Erling Haaland to join the club – snubbing RB Leipzig, Juventus and Manchester United in the process.
The Norway international was one of the most talked-about players in the build-up to the January transfer window, but just days before the new year it was confirmed that Haaland would move to Borussia Dortmund for €20m.
In a lengthy explanation about how Borussia Dortmund ended up signing Haaland – a player they first scouted in 2016 – The Athletic report that midfielder Thomas Delaney ‘coordinated a charm offensive’ to convince the teenager to make the move.
The Norwegian CEO of Puma, Bjorn Gulden, was also called upon by the club to encourage Haaland to join Borussia Dortmund.
As part of those discussions, Haaland was apparently offered a lucrative offer to be sponsored by Puma, although it’s been warned that his agent Mino Raiola might use that as a negotiating tactic to get a better deal from his current sponsor, Nike.
Crucially, BVB formulated a development plan for Haaland like no other club and they kept in contact with the 19-year-old throughout the process – unlike Manchester United, who sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to speak to him just the once.
They were able to convince Haaland that he was needed at Borussia Dortmund more than any other club, while it’s suggested that the chance to play regularly at the Westfalenstadion also played a role in his decision.
Talking to The Athletic about Dortmund’s scouting process with Haaland, chief scout Markus Pilawa said: “There was a debate whether it made sense to bring him into the club for the academy but he chose to go to Red Bull Salzburg in 2018.
“It made evaluating him regularly easier for us.
“There’s never a guarantee that someone scoring in Austria will continue at the same rate in the Bundesliga and deal with the higher tempo and intensity, but there are factors that determine the probabilities of success.
“We look at the physical development and his personality. How does he deal with setbacks and mistakes? What’s his body language?
“Later, when things become more concrete, you try to scout a player’s character off the pitch as well, looking at the way he conducts himself in meetings and so