Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Embattled Borusssia Dortmund take on Manchester City away in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final, first leg, amid rife speculation over the future of their striker Erling Braut Haaland and scathing criticism from their own CEO.
“It is justified. We have to deliver on the pitch and have let ourselves down too often,” Emre Can told reporters Monday after chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke was “disappointed beyond measure” by Dortmund’s performance in Saturday’s 2-1 home Bundesliga defeat by Frankfurt.
The result was a severe set back for Dortmund, who are now seven points from next season’s Champions League places and are at risk of missing out on qualifying for the first time in six years.
Dortmund defender Can said it is down to the players to show a reaction at the Etihad Stadium against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders with the return leg in Dortmund on April 14.
“We can do better and we will, tomorrow is a good day to show a reaction,” Can insisted.
“We definitely have to be brave and try to move the ball well.”
Dortmund are missing England winger Jadon Sancho, who has remained in Germany to receive treatment for a leg injury, but the spotlight will fall on the German club’s striker Haaland.
Signed for just 20 million euros ($24 million) in January 2020, Dortmund reportedly want 180 million euros for Haaland, who has scored 33 goals in 32 games this season.
Speculation the Norwegian striker will leave at the end of the season has been fuelled by his agent Mino Raiola and father Alf-Inge Haaland meeting with club officials from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
City are also said to be interested as a replacement for Sergio Aguero, whose contract expires in July.
Haaland’s Dortmund contract runs until 2024 and an exit clause – reportedly for around 75 million euros – is only valid in 2022.
Watzke insists Dortmund wants to keep Haaland at all costs, “there is no Plan B”.
Head coach Edin Terzic brushed off questions on Monday, insisting they were just “glad to have Haaland back and he seemed pleased to see us again” after international duty with Norway.
Yet the speculation seems to have taken a toll on the 20-year-old who failed to score in three games for Norway and Dortmund’s loss to Frankfurt.
His team-mates are aware Haaland’s days in Dortmund may be numbered.
“Logically”, missing out on the Champions League would have “financial consequences”, defender Mats Hummels told Sky.
“It may be that you can’t buy someone you want and have to sell someone you want to keep.”