Manchester

The inside story of Erling Haaland to Man City transfer and the help Borussia Dortmund gave

However, they will be received warmly at the Etihad this week for their role in ensuring that Txiki Begiristain managed not just to land the next superstar in world football but do it while turning an enormous profit for City in an extraordinary summer window that has seen the club generate a Premier League record total in sales. Thanks in no small part to Dortmund and Tottenham, City will line up with 51m striker Erling Haaland against his former club on Wednesday rather than Harry Kane, who remains a Spurs player rather than being the most expensive English transfer.

City cannot escape a reputation for spending heavily and they do not try to, having to pay over the odds after their 2008 takeover to force their way to the top table of English and European football and then continuing to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to improve Pep Guardiola's squad. They spent nearly 120m on recruits this summer to take their total to nearly 650m over the past five years.

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What is commonly wrong about the club's spending, however, is the idea that they have unlimited funds; City may have a bigger budget than most but they must still work to one. And while it was not at the forefront of their hunt for a Sergio Aguero replacement, circumstances have allowed their accounting books to look as impressive as their new No.9.

To understand why City pivoted from Kane to Haaland this summer, it has to be remembered why they pivoted from Haaland to Kane last year. The Norwegian colossus had been pinging as a ridiculous outlier on all of City's scouting metrics since he was a teenager in Byrne and was at the front of their minds when they agreed to let club record scorer Aguero depart on a free transfer, until it was made clear to them that Dortmund would not sell in the summer of 2021.

Kane was the obvious alternative as a player seen by the Blues hierarchy as not just the best No.9 in the league but the best No.10 as well, and while Spurs chairman Daniel Levy also made clear that he would not sell his star asset, there was enough encouragement given to City from elsewhere that the stance would change that they happily spent most of the window pursuing him.

City would not have gone to the figures of 150m and above that were reported, but the club were mindful a huge outlay on an Aguero replacement could be needed and it is not unreasonable to think they would have beaten the 100m British record transfer they had paid earlier that summer for Jack Grealish.

Levy's desire not to sell had been underestimated though, and while Kane would have been more attainable this summer with a year less on his contract, City did not enjoy having their fingers burned in the market. More importantly, Haaland would be available this summer and to make things even more straightforward there was a release clause coming into play.

Not that it was easy: Haaland's representatives made very public visits to Barcelona and Real Madrid last year and every major club that could sign him tried to. But City dug in and, having committed 100 per cent to getting the player in October 2021, they knew they had won the race to sign him nearly three months before the transfer window officially opened.

Confirmation of an agreement was announced in May in one of the greatest deals City or any Premier League club have ever pulled off. Despite the attraction of other clubs and other leagues that would argue they were more suited to Haaland's skills and conditioning at this age in his career, Haaland chose to come to Manchester where he felt “a bit at home” and could improve under Guardiola.

A five year-contract at the Etihad did not stop media from Munich to Madrid giddily talking up release clauses before the ink was dry, speculating that Haaland could be on the move to another league in a few years. This does not bother City in the slightest, who allow players to move if they bring an acceptable offer in but also have an excellent track record for keeping stars happy.

This summer just gone had specific circumstances in that two first team stars were entering the final year of their contract, but the money raised by the club at both first team and academy level was a marker of just how valuable City assets are after multiple seasons of success. Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko earned the club 122.5m while the likes of Romeo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu helped the academy chip in more than 50m and it would have been more if a 16m bid for Liam Delap hadn't been rejected.

The extent of the sales a league record gave City a profit of more than 50m, despite adding Kalvin Phillips, Sergio Gomez and Manuel Akanji to the books in addition to Haaland and means they have the best net spend in the Premier League for this summer. Over two years, Brighton are the only side to have a better record.

Profits generated this summer are even enough to transform their record over more of a long term, giving them a better net spend over the past five years than all of their biggest rivals including Liverpool, while in Europe over that same time period they are closer to Wednesday's opponents Dortmund than they are Paris Saint-Germain the side they are frequently banded with because the two clubs both have super-rich owners from the Middle East.

If City's hierarchy are rightly pleased with their work to ensure their spending is responsible and their books are balanced, they can thank Dortmund and Tottenham if the conversation around their spending often more important than the actual numbers changes. Had Haaland or Kane been made available last summer, City would surely have been a club that broke the British transfer record twice in the same window; instead they are the one that signed the No.9 everybody else wanted and still managed a record profit.