Man City pursuit of Erling Haaland is justified but Barcelona have made financial risk clear – Alex Brotherton

After sources in Germany and Spain last week suggested that Manchester City are leading the race to sign Erling Haaland, the latest reports suggest that City are close to agreeing personal terms with the sought-after striker. While MEN Sport understands that claims of a deal being almost complete are a little premature, it does appear that City are in pole position to seal the deal.

The latest significant development is that City are reportedly willing to pay Haaland over £ 500,000 per year, a salary that would make the 21-year-old the highest-paid player in England. The story, while not officially confirmed, has been backed up by Borussia Dortmund advisor Matthias Sammer, who joked that he had ‘whiplash’ and that he ‘passed out’ when he saw the reported figures.

That figure has prompted the likes of Marca to claim that Real Madrid, City’s main rivals to Haaland’s signature, will not compete with City’s offer. Given Florentino Perez’s record of paying through the nose for the players he wants, that could of course just be a ploy to make City out to be ruining football.

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Regardless, there’s no denying that £ 500,000 is an awful lot of money and if that is indeed the sum City are willing to pay Haaland, then it represents a huge departure from their current wage structure. City of course have every right to pay that much; Haaland is a generational talent, and if they don’t pay then he will end up going to a direct Champions League rival.

City would no doubt get their money’s worth too. Still only 21, Haaland is a physical and technical freak, a forward who strikes fear into the most experienced of defenders and who has scored 80 goals in 80 games for Dortmund. Yet there are inherent risks in paying such an enormous fee for a new recruit – and a young one at that – that City should be well aware of before they sign on the dotted line.

While things over at Old Trafford have descended into farce with underperforming players demanding bumper new contracts, City have prided themselves on sticking to a sensible wage structure. Players earn the right to improved terms; they aren’t handed out willy-nilly.

Manchester City are in pole position to sign Erling Haaland this summer

But if City do offer Haaland half a million pounds a week, then he will instantly become City’s highest earner by some distance. Kevin De Bruyne currently tops the City pay rankings, taking home over £ 350,000 per week, while Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish are on around the £ 300,000 mark.

If Haaland – an admittedly brilliant young player but who has not won a major trophy in his career – comes right in at the top, what does that say to the players who have helped City win three of the last four Premier League titles, four of the last five Carabao Cups and reach a Champions League final? Surely they will soon start demanding more and, before you know it, City could face dressing-room unrest like their cross-town neighbors, or even worse, Barcelona-esque financial ruin.

Pep Guardiola undoubtedly provides a great incentive for City targets to join – who wouldn’t want to play for one of the greatest coaches of all time? But when Pep eventually leaves, will money become the driving factor? Will every new signing want £ 500,000? Like Haaland, Phil Foden is a generational talent, one who could complement the new arrival and vice versa. Given that both have similar potential to dominate football in years to come, it’s only natural that Foden might one day demand similar wages.

In purely footballing terms, signing Haaland would be extremely exciting for City and a clear sign of intent. Everything might turn out fine, but we have to accept that there is the possibility that he could create issues in the long term.

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