LIVERPOOL and Arsenal turned Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland down when he started out at Molde because they thought he was a “target man”.
But things could have turned out differently as the Reds and the Gunners were offered the star striker when he was 17 years old and starting out in Norway.
That is according to Molde’s former chief scout John Vik, who claims English clubs, such as Liverpool and Arsenal, were strongly advised to snatch the Norway international before it was too late.
But none of them listened to Vik, who worked under former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the time, because they thought he was too big for a centre-forward
Now, the former scout insists they must all be “kicking themselves” amid the Norwegian’s ongoing success.
Vik told The Athletic: “I think they [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 centre-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 No9 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.”