Dortmund need Champions League to keep Haaland

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Erling Haaland of Dortmund celebrates after scoring during a German Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Cologne in Dortmund, Germany, Jan. 24, 2020. (Photo by Joachim Bywaletz/Xinhua)

Norwegian striker Erling Haaland is continuing his triumphal march and has triggered new speculation about his future.

Having scored his 17th goal in 17 games in addition to four assists, the 20-year-old is again attractive to Europe's top clubs.

After his two goals in the derby against arch-rival Schalke 04 (4-0), the Blacks and Yellows are under increasing pressure to either secure Champions League qualification for next season or risk losing the gifted attacker.

"Haaland must play in the Champions League, and he will next season," former German international Lothar Matthaeus said.

Only the Champions League is going to provide the opportunity "to develop and move forwards." Matthaeus is convinced that if Dortmund can't return to the top four in the Bundesliga, the club will lose the dynamic striker.

That Haaland will end up at one of the top dogs sooner or later is inevitable, said the 59-year-old.

Having become one of the continent's most wanted strikers, Haaland won't accept anything less than participating in the Champions League, Matthaeus said.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane compared Haaland and Kylian Mbappe with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. "Both are on their way to equalling them," Zidane said. In his perspective, Haaland and Mbappe are not only the men of the hour but football's future, ready to shape a new era.

Rumors speak of offers of up to 130 million euros for the Dortmund striker, who is said to have an exit-clause in summer 2022. Until then, it seems up to Dortmund to make a decision. Some reports speak of an exit clause worth 75 million euros.

The financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic might force the club to sell Haaland. Club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke spoke of significant losses due to games behind closed doors. Watzke estimated the loss in ticket revenue at 4 million euros for every home match.

Others speak of Dortmund's future coach Marco Rose, possibly convincing the Norwegian to stay as they successfully worked together at Austrian side RB Salzburg.

Dortmund is currently six points short of the Champions League's qualification spots in the national league.

Team captain Marco Reus called Haaland "a goal machine pushing the entire team" full of energy and never running out of power.

In the first leg of Dortmund's encounter in the last 16 against Sevilla (3-2), he scored his 17th and 18th goals in his 13th Champions League game.

Eight goals in the 2020/2021 campaign make him the leading striker ahead of Juve's Alvaro Morata and Paris' Neymar (6).

Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc didn't entirely exclude an early departure of Haaland by saying: "We have to talk about this when we come to it."

Despite all the speculation, Haaland seems to be turning into one of football's hottest properties. Interested clubs might be forced to consider paying a bigger sum this summer rather than waiting for 2022 when the exit-clause kicks in. 

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