Creative Soccer Culture

Will Haaland Be The Player To Propel PUMA To The Pinnacle?

Reports linking Erling Haaland with a move to PUMA just won’t go away, and with his contract with Nike apparently set to end in January 2022, the switch could be closer than ever, with large sums being touted. So what would the Norwegian hitman bring to the German brand?

Despite the seeming unwillingness to give up their positions at the top of the game, Messi and Ronaldo’s time is finite. As they edge ever so slowly towards the end of their careers, their departures will leave a vacuum that will need to be filled. And that’s not just with their performances on the pitch in mind – Messi and Ronaldo have been the key figureheads for adidas and Nike’s football divisions respectively for over a decade now, and their departure will be felt.

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While some felt that Neymar was the natural successor to Ronaldo at Nike, the Portuguese’s sheer longevity put paid to that, leading to Neymar’s eventual departure to PUMA; a move that undoubtedly helped put the cat amongst the pigeons. Or the cat amongst the Three Stripes and Swoosh at the top of the game to be more precise. But Neymar is fast approaching 30, with his prime years behind him, just like Ronaldo and Messi, so what next for all three brands? Attention has to turn to the next generation...

Nike already have Kylian Mbappé in place, a World Cup winner and one of the best players in the world who, at the age of 24, still has his prime years well ahead of him. For adidas there is a player following in the footsteps of Messi at Barcelona in Pedri, who recently scooped the Kopa trophy at the Ballon d’Or awards. One glance at PUMA’s roster though, which contains the likes of  Griezmann, Reus, Suarez, and the aforementioned Neymar, and one thing is clear: they’re lacking a young world-beater that can carry the brand forward for the next decade. Sure they've got Pulisic, but the US star has yet to really kick on following his move to Chelsea.

The team at PUMA have done amazingly well to bring the brand back into contention with adidas and Nike over the last 10 years; the last year alone shows what a strong position they are now in, with reports confirming that their sales are up nearly double, that despite the factory closures and supply chain issues that have plagued this last year. They are on the rise, but that momentum needs to continue.

Erling Haaland’s rise in the game is ridiculous. At just 21 his goalscoring statistics are registering virtually off the charts, and he boasts one of the best strike rates of any player in Europe's top leagues. He scored 20 Champions League goals in just 14 games, achieving the milestone in ten matches fewer than the next player on the list, and he was also the first player to do so ahead of his 21st birthday.

The Borussia Dortmund striker has a superior goal to game ratio than Mbappé, Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski when they were the same age. In fact, Mbappé and Haaland are so far ahead in terms of goals scored when compared to Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski at the same age, the potential for what these two can achieve is scary. While we don’t like comparisons, these two look set to be doing battle for a long time to come, picking up where Messi and Ronaldo eventually leave off. But from a brand perspective there’s only two of them, and Mbappé is already spoken for… you can see where this is going.

Haaland is currently a Nike athlete, but that looks set to change, with his contract with the brand reportedly due to end in January 2022. Cue a mad battle for his signature that would probably only be matched by the battle for his signature on a club level – this guy is in serious demand, and it’s not hard to see why.

But PUMA appear to be the frontrunners at present. Their interest has been confirmed by PUMA CEO, Bjorn Gulden, when speaking to German newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten recently. “I would like to have [Haaland] under contract, that can happen," he said. ”Erling in PUMA shoes at BVB – that would be my very favourite combination!

The reports linking PUMA and Haaland have been around since the Norwegian’s move to Dortmund, with suggestions that as part of the negotiations between the club and player, Dortmund roped in PUMA to offer Haaland a lucrative sponsorship package to eclipse his current deal with the Swoosh. It's something that’s not beyond the realms of possibility when you consider that PUMA is a shareholder of Borussia Dortmund, and throughout the long partnership with the club the brand has recruited a number of top BVB players into their ranks including Marco Reus, Axel Witsel, Łukasz Piszczek and Marc Bartra.

Recently, German publication Bild reported that PUMA are willing to offer Haaland a total of 25 million euros over the next five years. With all of Europe’s biggest clubs interested in the signing of Haaland, the move could potentially see PUMA-sponsored Manchester City given the edge. City have failed to replace Sergio Aguero since his departure, and following the Argentine’s enforced retirement from the game, PUMA also have one less player that they could well do with replacing. Not that everything fits that nicely in real life, but it would all make a certain amount of sense. Ultimately, like most things behind the scenes in football these days, it will probably just come down to money.

If the move did come to pass, Haaland would be positioned as the man to lead PUMA into the future – something Nike certainly wouldn’t be able to offer with the likes of Mbappé already on the cards. He’s already set to dominate the game on the pitch for years to come, and his capture would be a major signal of intent from the brand, one that could potentially see them eclipse their perennial rivals, adidas, and even have Nike looking over their shoulders. The other thing it would do is see two of the best players going head to head at rival brands once more, picking up where Messi and Ronaldo leave off. Only it could be PUMA and not adidas that go up against Nike.

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All eyes of Erling Haaland's feet come February...

Daniel Jones

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