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Liverpool Or Arsenal "Could Have Got" Erling Haaland From Molde But Dismissed Him As A "Target Man"

Erling Haaland arrived in the Premier League this summer when Manchester City signed him as a 22-year-old with over 150 club goals to his name.

But he could have moved to England much sooner had scouts from Liverpool and Arsenal not dismissed him when he was a teenager in Norway.

Haaland began his career with Bryne before joining Molde at the age of 16.

He worked under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde and made a strong impression on the Manchester United legend.

Molde chief scout John Vik was also thoroughly impressed.

Vik, who no longer works for Molde, spoke to The Athletic recently and recalled telling Solskjaer to call United about a teenage Haaland.

Erling Haaland pictured in action for Molde in 2017

Erling Haaland pictured in action for Molde in 2017

"I remember one day when I was watching Erling train," said Vik. "He had been with us seven or eight months, he was training really hard and he had become part of the squad.

"I walked down to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was Molde's manager, and I said, 'You have to call Manchester United, mate – this is unreal what we are looking at.'

"Me and Ole understood that this kid was so good we were not going to be able to keep him. Ole agreed with absolutely everything. 'I will put a phone call in', he said, 'they need to hear about this kid'.

"We had friends at United. I used to work closely with United in the early 2000s and most of the guys I knew had gone. But Ole was Ole. 'For God's sake', I said, 'call Nicky Butt (then United's head of academy), or call somebody, because this kid is [great]'.

"This was even before Erling had really started to play for Molde properly. Ole put the phone call in. So the name was put in. Then, how or whether United followed it up, I don't know."

United are not the only English club who will likely be regretting not signing Haaland when they had the chance.

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According to Vik, Liverpool and Arsenal both scouted him, only to dismiss him as a "target man" who might not be versatile enough to fit into their tactical plans.

Erling Haaland pictured during his official presentation as a Manchester City player in July 2022

Haaland signed for Manchester City this summer

He added: "I think they (the English scouts) looked at him as a target man because he was so big.

"I kept telling them, 'He's not a target man – if you're going to judge him that way, you're going to be disappointed'.

"I remember one occasion when the team were out in Spain. I was with some of my colleagues from Premier League clubs and I remember saying, 'I have to repeat myself, guys, don't judge him as a target man, you have to look beyond that. He runs in between, he chases space, he's fantastic in the box, he's that kind of player'.

"I was thinking to myself, 'Am I the guy who is getting it wrong? Am I seeing this the wrong way?' But there has always been this perception with some English clubs that a striker needs to look a certain way, and that a center-half needs to look a certain way, and you need a certain frame for a certain role.

"When they were seeing a big striker like Erling, they were seeing a target man and I think they forgot to look at what else he could do.

"Liverpool could have got him. Arsenal could have got him. Everyone was there to watch him but these clubs were seeing a no.9 who was tall and broad and, 'Oh, he's going to be a target man'. I couldn't for the life of me see why they had narrowed him down that way.

"I didn't like him with his back towards the goal and, at the time, he couldn't really head the ball. I liked it when he turned round, when he chased into pockets, when he ran between the lines, his movement in the box. He didn't want to hold the ball up, he just wanted to turn and go.

"There will be a lot of clubs kicking themselves because we can all see now what he is good at."

Haaland only moved to England in July but he has already been a big hit.

The former Bryne, Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund frontman has scored 13 goals in his first nine games for City.

He is due to come up against Liverpool on October 16 when City travel to Anfield. City had been scheduled to play Arsenal three days later but that fixture was recently postponed because of the London club's Europa League commitments.

SEE ALSO: Erling Haaland Recreates Johan Cruyff Wonder Goal To Help Man City Beat Dortmund