Erling Haaland’s final destination this summer will be the main talking point of the transfer window and Borussia Dortmund will be desperate to hold on to their star striker.
But the German giants are in the habit of selling their best talents, and it is to their credit that they often skillfully fill the gaps.
So if Haaland does end up at Manchester City, Real Madrid or even Chelsea in a few months’ time, Dortmund’s keen-eyed scouts will have already identified his replacement.
Early suggestions seem to indicate that the man to replace Haaland could be Sasa Kalajdzic – but who is he and does he have what it takes to fill such big shoes?
Sasa Kalajdzic of VfB Stuttgart has been linked with a summer move to Borussia Dortmund
Who is he?
It hasn’t really hit the scene just yet, but his progress since turning professional five years ago has been impressive.
Kalajdzic was born in Vienna and is of Serbian descent. The 23-year-old started his career with the Austrian top racer Admira Wacker Modling.
After two years of regular appearances in Austria, he joined Stuttgart in 2019 and is emerging as one of their key players in a dramatic revival of fortune for the club.
The Bundesliga side are experiencing a strong season competing for a spot in the Europa League next season, and Kalajdzic’s 13 goals from 26 league matches (14 of 29 in total) have significantly improved his side’s success following their promotion from the start. second level. .
The Stuttgart forward has scored no less than 13 goals from 26 Bundesliga matches this season
Any international family tree?
Kalajdzic has remained loyal to his native country, earning six under-21 caps for Austria between 2017/19.
However, his excellent form for Stuttgart saw him promoted to the senior team for his debut late last year and has played three more times since then.
Last month, he scored his first three senior-level goals, including a brace against Scotland and another against the Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifiers.
With Austria qualifying for the European Championship this summer, you can expect the forward to take the lead as they take on the Netherlands, Ukraine and North Macedonia in their group.
The 23-year-old has been capped for Austria and scored twice against Scotland in March
What is his playing style?
Standing at two meters (6ft 7in in old money), Kalajdzic can be seen as a target as he makes good use of his height with regular goals from heading.
But there’s more to his game than just pumping the ball towards him for a long time and hoping for the best. He actually started his career as a midfielder and this experience has helped him develop technical skills to match his airborne threat. That’s quite a combination.
He was inspired by Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, whom he called ‘an idol’, and he based his game on the basics when he started out as a professional.
On offense he is extremely effective at holding the ball and of course he poses a huge threat at his height when it comes to set pieces.
Standing two meters high, Kalajdzic is a serious threat in the air and has excellent heading ability
At the start of his career he was inspired by Man Utd midfielder Nemanja Matic (R)
Who has he been compared to?
His aerial threat and technical skills have especially compared him to former England international Peter Crouch, a probability that even Kalajdzic thinks is a very good example.
On the mainland, he has also been tipped to become the ‘next Mario Gomez’, after the former Germany striker, Stuttgart and Bayern Munich.
Nicknames and tropes like ‘tall and lanky’ have been thrown at him, but he claims he’s also described as an ‘Ibrahimovic machine’ in relation to the maverick AC Milan veteran.
His threats both in the air and on the ball have drawn wide comparisons to Peter Crouch
But he’s also been described as an Ibrahimovic machine, like AC Milan’s forward (left) and Mario Gomez (right) next after the former German forward.
Has he had any setbacks?
Potential suitors will be a little alarmed if he misses most of the 2019/20 season due to a torn cruciate ligament he sustained in preparation shortly after signing with Stuttgart.
He still did not come in 100 percent this season, despite netting in his first three Bundesliga games.
He struggled to fully adjust to the top flight, scoring only one game through the end of January, while also only playing 90 minutes twice in 18 league games.
However, he now seems to be finding fitness and confidence with eight goals in his last nine appearances for Stuttgart.
Kalajdzic has enjoyed an excellent first season in the Bundesliga – graphically SofaScore
Borussia Dortmund, looking for a possible replacement for Haaland, was not the only team to follow his career.
Since the sale of Sebastien Haller in the January transfer window, West Ham has also looked to the striker as a possible replacement.
Premier League colleagues Crystal Palace, Brighton and Leeds United have also followed him in the past, while Roma, Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig have shown interest before, although his reputation has grown since then.
Stuttgart would have been tempted to sell Kalajdzic for £ 15 million in January, but its 2021 form coupled with Dortmund’s interest will have closed the door to that bargain.
Borussia Dortmund could see Kalajdzic as a potential replacement for Erling Haaland (above)
What has been said?
Despite all the clubs he has been associated with, it is Liverpool for whom Kalajdzic most wants to play.
Watching the Reds win the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005, he grew more and more from the club, admitting to having attended matches as a fan.
He told the German outlet image: ‘I feel completely at home in Stuttgart, but it would be a very difficult decision because I really like Liverpool.
‘This club is just special to me. When I was a kid I watched the Champions League final in 2005 when Liverpool came back from 3-0 against Milan to win. That got me.
“The last time I went to a game in Liverpool with my brother, I really dressed myself up: I bought a scarf, sweater, cap and a mug.”
His international manager Franco Foda is very impressed with his pace of improvement this season, claiming that his form in March gave him a headache this summer when choosing his forwards.
However, Kalajdzic would like to play for Liverpool after following them through their youth
His international manager Franco Foda was impressed by his early career in Austria
“He has developed extremely well in recent weeks and months and has taken the momentum with him,” said the Austrian boss.
“In the beginning you always noticed what qualities he has, but now he also plays for goal, where a striker has to be.”
‘He has good anticipation in the penalty area. It was no coincidence that he scored these goals [in the World Cup qualifiers]
‘We are of course very happy that we now have more alternatives and an attacker who scores. It is all the better for a coach if he is spoiled for choice. ‘