Erling Braut Haaland is possibly the hottest property in world football at the moment and although a whole host of English and German clubs have been linked with the Norwegian international he’s a player that Zinedine Zidane shouldn’t overlook as he attempts to build a team capable of getting back to the heights they reached a couple of years ago.
A bit about the man
Haaland is the son of former Nottingham Forest and Manchester midfielder Alf-Inge and although he was born in Leeds, another of his father’s former sides, he moved back to his native Norway aged three. It was in Norway that Haaland received his football grounding and he has represented the national side at every level from under 15 upwards and, after continuing to turn in impressive displays, made his full international bow in September aged 19.
Scoring for fun
Haaland made his first foray into professional football during the 2015/16 campaign with Bryne FK in the Norway’s second tier but he failed to find the net in 16 appearances – albeit only featuring for an average of 25 minutes per game.
By the next season he was playing for Molde under the guidance of now Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and although his game time didn’t increase much, he was firmly in the first team picture and contributed four goals and an assist giving him a goal involvement every 128 minutes. The next year, however, has to go down as Haaland’s true breakout season as he bagged a respectable 12 in 25 with a further four goals laid on for teammates.
His performances were enough to prompt Red Bull Salzburg to fork out £4.5m for his signature and he has been a revelation since arriving in Austria. This season alone he’s been involved in 33 goals, scoring 27, in just 18 appearances with 15 of those strikes forming hat-tricks and, one of those in the Champions League is a big part of the reason for the emergence of his name onto the lips of almost every fan in the world.
The other big moment that made your average supporter take notice was a Norwegian under 20 World Cup match where Haaland bagged an eye-popping nine – yes nine – goals in a 12-0 rout of Honduras. Unsurprisingly, those nine goals were enough to clinch Haaland the golden boot award.
Style of play
If you base your opinion of Haaland on statistics alone you’d be forgiven for having him down as a ‘fox in the box’ type striker as a third of his goals this year have been gobbled up inside the six yard box with all bar one of the others still inside 18 yards. Look a little deeper though and you’ll see the young Norwegian is so much more than a goal poacher.
For one, he’s been compared to the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which isn’t a reference that can be thrown around lightly, but you can see why it has been used. Haaland is a sizeable lump standing at 6 foot 3 inches, he is broad with it too and boasts the strength and power to rival that of a stallion horse running the Kentucky Derby races.
He uses that physicality to good effect also, regularly dropping deep to link up play and he’s not afraid to turn and go at defenders meaning you’re never quite sure what to expect. Of course, the boy can finish too.
The final word
Rumour has it that Haaland will be available for £75m and with Karim Benzema not getting any younger now could be the perfect time to blood the youngster with the experienced head of Benzema still around to nurture his obvious talent.
If Real don’t swoop now, don’t be surprised to see them come sniffing around in two or three years for a much greater fee as Haaland’s career is only going in one direction – upwards.