At one time or another, every single one of Europe's biggest clubs have harboured hopes of signing Erling Haaland. Some have held face-to-face talks with his representatives. Others, like Real Madrid and Barcelona, laid on tours of their training ground and at one stage, Manchester United believed they were so close to sealing a transfer that they began looking at travel options to bring him to the city.

Along with Kylian Mbappe, Haaland is the most coveted young player in the world -- and was No. 1 in ESPN's 39 players U21 list -- so much so that the pair have been tipped to take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the game's dominant global icons. Mbappe is still at the centre of his own transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, which could see him move on a free this summer, but on Tuesday it was announced that Manchester City have won the €60 million race for Haaland.

Sources close to the club have told ESPN they believe they've signed a generational superstar in a deal that could go down as one of the best in football history. They have also done it with minimal fuss and in plenty of time to ensure Haaland will be on the plane with the rest of Pep Guardiola's squad for their preseason tour of the United States ahead of a debut season in the Premier League.

Guardiola finally has his striker and Haaland, 21, has his chance on the big stage. Here's how things played out.


Man City's priority: Haaland, Kane, then Haaland

Man City's scouts -- like most around the world -- have been aware of Haaland since he made his senior debut for Bryne in Norway as a 15-year-old in 2016, and his reputation as a powerful, prolific goal scorer has only increased in the years since. After a spell under former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde, he scored 29 goals in 27 games as a teenager for Austrian side FC Salzburg.

In December 2019, he joined Dortmund -- where he notched 85 goals in 88 games across two-and-a-half seasons -- for his €20m release clause and it was the moment he signed his contract with the Bundesliga side that his eventual switch to City was set in motion.