Even when he was not on the market, Erling Haaland's shadow loomed large over proceedings in the January window. His presence could be felt not so much in the business done but in the absence of much conjecture, let alone concrete interest from those looking to position themselves for the transfer race of a generation this month.

Of course the biggest and best tend not to make radical investments at midseason but there tend to be whispers, suggestions of business that may be brought forward. Little if any emerged last month. 

It is as if Europe were holding their breath, doing nothing that might disturb the pursuit of Haaland.

It is a deal worth waiting for. Haaland's contract with Borussia Dortmund includes a release clause that becomes active this summer, allowing him to leave for any club that offers €75 million ($84M). For his current club, that represents an almighty profit on the fee they paid Red Bull Salzburg for the Norwegian international's services just over two years ago. For his suitors, it is a bargain with scarce parallels even if his salary is expected to be in excess of $500,000-a-week.

Remove the clause in his contract and Haaland would command at least twice that fee. Here is a player who averages more than a goal a game at Dortmund, who has set scoring records in the Champions League and is already ranked among the best in the world by his peers.

At 21, whichever club succeeds in securing his services might reasonably expect a decade of top-tier goalscoring. They might imagine that there are heights yet unreached by a player who insists he can "improve on everything." Haaland — son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf Inge — tracks Jamie Vardy to perfect his runs in behind, studies Robin van Persie's technical excellence, all to make himself the best of the best.

He is not far off that already. At the highest of levels, he has excelled for a sustained period. Over the past three seasons of Champions League football, only one player (Robert Lewandowski) has outscored Haaland, who has 23 goals in 19 games. Per 90 minutes, the 21-year-old ranks in Europe's top five in almost every category by which a striker might be judged: Goals, expected goals, shooting goals added, proportion of shots on target. He wins his aerial duels and last season's European knockout games also suggest a player who understands his gravity can be used to create chances for others.