'Haaland opportunity was too good for Dortmund to miss' – Watzke delights in getting another 'classic No.9'
February 18, 2020
The Bundesliga title challengers made one of the biggest signings of the January transfer window when they brought in the Norwegian from Salzburg
In an exclusive interview with Goal, Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke described the transfer of Erling Haaland as a great opportunity to sign a unique player.
Watzke believes Haaland is a rare talent and the type of striker Dortmund have been waiting for.
Though he doesn’t name check Robert Lewandowski, he does describe the type of player he is, suggesting Haaland is the closest the club have come to replacing the Pole who left Dortmund for Bayern in 2014.
“We always wanted to have a centre forward who has a different way of playing football,” Watzke told Goal.
“It wasn’t about a second striker, but a tall, physically strong classic number nine. But this guy also had to come onto the market first.
“There are not many who are 1.94 meters tall and that fast. Actually, nobody else comes to mind. It was just an opportunity that you don’t get very often.
“I’ve been following his progress a little longer. I first met him in December. I think we both quickly felt that it could be something.”
The Norwegian teenager has already scored eight goals in five appearances for Dortmund, which is all the more impressive when taking into account he has only played 305 minutes of German Bundesliga football in black and yellow so far.
He has made the step from Austria to Germany with ease and has already worked his way into the starting lineup at just 19 years of age. Just two substitute appearances were enough to convince head coach Lucien Favre he deserved a starting spot.
“He is still very young, but has a huge will,” added Watzke. “He has the physical attributes and is extremely focused. It is certainly good for us.
“Basically Scandinavian players are very motivated, very hungry for success and very decent guys.
“Erling embodies all of this. He has a good character and has an irrepressible will. Even in training! It is a good story.”
As Haaland joined, Paco Alcacer left, and according to Watzke the decision to let the Spaniard go was an easy one.
The Spaniard was a regular off the bench for Dortmund, but not a regular in the starting XI. The move suited the player, too, as he wants to push for a place in the Spain squad at Euro 2020, so a switch to Villarreal was beneficial to all involved.
“Other players can also play the role of Paco with us, but we didn’t have a guy like Erling before,” Watzke said.
“The decision to let Paco go was easy. A centre forward who doesn’t play quickly becomes dissatisfied. His big goal is the European Championship 2020, and he would have missed it probably if he stayed.
“The economic component was not crucial. We would have got the money even in summer.”