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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reveals how close Man Utd came to signing Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham

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Football

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed how close Manchester United came to signing Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham when he was in charge at the club.

Solskjaer was sacked by United in November 2021 after three years in charge, but the former striker and Old Trafford legend could have altered the club’s future had he landed two of the hottest talents in the game when they were still relatively cheap.

Solskjaer managed his compatriot Haaland when he was in charge of Norwegian club Molde and alerted United of his ability as far back as 2018, when Haaland was 17. Solskjaer then made a move to sign Haaland when he took interim charge of United midway but was talked down from triggering a “bargain” €20m release clause for the striker.

The former United manager also revealed the club pulled out all the stops in an attempt to sign a 16-year-old Bellingham from Birmingham City in the summer of 2019, with legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson and club legends Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona all meeting the teenager on a visit to United’s Carrington training ground.

Solskjaer and United would miss out on both players. Haaland would instead move to Red Bull Salzburg before progressing to Borussia Dortmund, which was also Bellingham’s destination when he turned down United after leaving Birmingham. Haaland has since made a staggering impact at United’s rivals City while Bellingham has made a sensational start to life at Real Madrid, with both players widely recognised as among the very best in the world.

But United could have signed both and Solskjaer told the Stick to Football show: “I had him [Haaland] in Molde, for two seasons.

“The summer before I got here, I rang the club and said, ‘You’ve got to sign this boy. He’ll be top class’.

“That was June, July 2018, and they said no. They had enough reports on players. Then I became the caretaker manager, and we’d sold Haaland to RB Salzburg.

I tell the club straight away to buy him while he has a release clause. We knew that then, and no one else would’ve paid the money – €20m, it would’ve been a bargain.

Manchester United had chance to sign both Haaland and Bellingham

(Getty Images)

“It was the club’s decision to not go for it then. We never made bids or went in for him, until after he started scoring for Salzburg.

“By then, Borussia Dortmund were there, Juventus were there, everyone was there. His release clause then was still good – €60m.

“Jude, he was in the building. I was there, Sir Alex Ferguson was there, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona were all there that day when he came to the club.

“We all spoke to him and sold it as well as he could. He knew what he wanted a certain amount of minutes in the first team.

“He was 17 at the time, and he was the most mature 17-year-old I’ve ever met – he had it all planned out.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjær was speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, brought to you by Sky Bet

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