Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund legend Karl-Heinz Riedle says the Bundesliga club is ‘praying’ star striker Erling Haaland stays next season as they fend off interest from the Premier League.
“We’re praying he will stay another year at Borussia Dortmund,” Riedle told international media on Friday.
“It will be very difficult to keep him after this season, but he is a crucial player for us.”
Haaland is set to feature on Saturday when Dortmund, who are second in the title race, host leaders Bayern Munich.
Haaland’s contract runs until 2024 but a release clause, reportedly for 80 million euros ($90 million), is said to become active next year.
Injury ruled him out of Dortmund’s 3-1 defeat at Sporting Lisbon last week which ended their chances of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League this season.
The 21-year-old scored as a substitute on his return from a persistent hip injury last Saturday.
His stunning volley at Wolfsburg was his 50th Bundesliga goal in as many games.
“It’s quite a miracle he came back so early and you could see the impact he had on the Dortmund team,” Riedle said of Haaland’s cameo.
Dortmund coach Marco Rose expects to again use Haaland off the bench with the towering striker “perhaps not yet ready for 90 minutes” against Bayern.
Despite missing the previous five weeks, Haaland has still managed to score 19 goals for Dortmund and Norway this season.
Manchester United are reportedly among the Premier League clubs chasing Haaland.
Their new interim coach Ralf Rangnick on Friday dismissed reports he would receive a bonus for signing Haaland, but still heaped praise on the Norwegian goal ace.
“Erling is a fantastic forward. I know what he can do, but meanwhile the whole world knows how good he is,” Rangnick quipped.
With an eye on Saturday’s Bundesliga showdown, Riedle says just having Haaland available will be a “big lift for the whole team. You need 11 players in top form to beat Bayern”.
Haaland scored twice in the opening nine minutes when the clubs met last March before a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick sealed a 4-2 win for Bayern.
Riedle, whose double inspired Dortmund to the 3-1 win over Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final, feels Haaland has a score to settle having had to go off with the match level at 2-2 in Munich.
“He’s really up for this game,” said Riedle.
Record levels of the coronavirus across Germany means Signal Iduna Park — which usually holds 80,000 — will have a maximum crowd of 15,000.
“The atmosphere will still be good,” said Riedle, who works for Dortmund as an international ambassador.
“Due to the problems with covid, it’s better than nothing — the 15,000 will still try to make an atmosphere to help the team.”