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Manchester City must pursue their interest in Erling Haaland in order to avoid painful declines suffered by rivals Manchester United and Arsenal.
The Premier League leaders will get a good look at the Borussia Dortmund star in the Champions League quarter-finals.
While it is a significant fixture on the pitch, it is also an opportunity for the recruitment team to see the transfer target in full flow.
With agent Mino Raiola charging some phenomenal fees for the 20-year-old, who has 118 senior goals, Pep Guardiola’s side have been considered top contenders for the forward.
But the Spaniard has been trying to mix the scent after claiming last week that the side could “not afford” Haaland.
He took a different tact in the pre-match press conference, though, by praising the goalscorer as “fantastic” while suggesting City would still have a chance of signing him.
While speculation has been focussed on the Norwegian coming into the Etihad Stadium, it has been easy to forget about recent fears over Guardiola’s own future.
The 50-year-old, who has guided the club to eight major titles in five years, only signed a two-year extension in November.
But that is a short time in football, meaning the recruitment team need to start thinking about a package that will appeal to future bosses.
And the purchase of Haaland, while it could break the bank, would stop them repeating the disappearing acts of their rivals.
United, just on the other side of the city, saw legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson leave after 26 years in 2013.
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While he left on a high with a 20th Premier League honour, the Scot left an ageing squad.
Icons such as Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were hitting the twilight of their careers.
But it was also the departure of chief executive David Gill the same year that left new boss David Moyes with a mountain to climb.
As targets such as Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas left for rivals, it started the decline in the club’s title-winning reputation.
And the same story was starting to unfold at the Emirates Stadium under Arsene Wenger.
Having earned the coveted Invincibles title in the 2003/04 season, the Frenchman had seen his talents slowly depart.
Despite winning three FA Cups and Charity Shields in the last decade, his retirement in 2018 left Unai Emery with little creativity in the locker.
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The Gunners needed an injection of title-winning experience – but their slow decline damaged their reputation severely.
And they have now been left as a mid-table side battling to even get into the Europa League.
If City can bring Haaland into the fold, the forward would provide a glowing USP for Guardiola’s successor come 2023 and stop the rot of top Premier League sides after successful managers’ departures.
With the 20-year-old showing off his smile in the Etihad Stadium tunnel this week for Dortmund training, a permanent tenure at the ground would keep the smiles and trophies coming for many years.
READ MORE:Man Utd 'will get chance' to audition to Erling Haaland's dad despite not meeting this week
READ MORE:Erling Haaland to Man City transfer at risk because of Pep Guardiola's bitter off-pitch row
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