Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has insisted he is not worried about losing striker Erling Haaland, stressing that the club are well prepared for a future without the Norway international.
Haaland has agreed terms with Manchester City and is expected to imminently finalise a switch to the Etihad Stadium, becoming the latest in a long list of stars who have left Dortmund for pastures new in recent years.
Watzke spoke to CNN about the imminent transfer, and while he admitting he would be disappointed to lose Haaland, he was adamant that the show at Signal Iduna Park will go on.
“It’s a decision for Erling,” Watzke said. “Erling, you know, has an exit clause and he must decide if we wants to take this exit clause or not and he has time to give us his decision. When the time is ready, he will do it.
“But we have played football for 113 years, and for 111 years, we played without Erling Haaland. We had Robert Lewandowski and then he left us in 2014, but we played football in ’15, ’16, ’17 until now.
“Then next came Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and then Erling Haaland and you can be sure if Erling takes a decision to leave us, we will find the next [player] 100%.”
Indeed, the next starlet through the door is set to be Haaland’s replacement at RB Salzburg, German striker Karim Adeyemi, who snubbed the chance to join Manchester United in favour of a move to Dortmund.
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Watzke went on to admit that losing top players to the game’s richest clubs is just part of life for Dortmund, who pride themselves on helping young talents develop into superstars.
“That’s the only way for us because when a player performs very well, we have to fight against the big, big, big clubs with the oligarchs and the Arabian states at their back,” Watzke continued.
“And this fight we cannot win, but we can win a fight over an 18-year-old player, like Jude Bellingham, because this player loves to play at Borussia Dortmund because we have always 80,000 spectators, it’s a very good atmosphere and the club knows how to manage young players.
“That’s our way and, okay, we have a good department who are scouting young players every day, but it’s also very important if you have the player here, you must develop him and I think that works… most of the time, it works.”