Every now and again a player comes along that rips up the rulebook. Cristiano Ronaldo did it. So did Lionel Messi. There have been others that operated, seemingly, on another level. Alan Shearer was known for his power and he scored outrageous goals. Thierry Henry had the skill and ability to get you off your seat. Didier Drogba mastered the art of single-handedly occupying an entire back four. It isn’t an exaggeration to say Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has bits of all of these legendary players in his game. He is one of those rare generational talents and I believe he might just go on to become the best player of all time.
He has pace, strength, intelligence and ruthless finishing ability. I cannot see any weaknesses in his game. He is an unbelievable talent. The 22-year-old Norwegian has already bagged 15 goals in 9 Premier League games. Most top strikers would be delighted with that many come the end of the season in May. But, we are only in October and Haaland is now just 6 strikes away from last season’s Golden Boot tally.
Opposition players appear to be mentally beaten before the match even starts with the mere sighting of Haaland warming up. Standing at 6 foot 4 inches he is an intimidating presence. Southampton were his latest casualties. They just knew what was going to happen. Haaland was going to score. It took him until the second half having earlier been denied by the post. But there seems no way of stopping him. In all competitions he has scored 20 times in 13 appearances for City. If he keeps up this strike rate he will end up getting 66 goals. The all-time top-flight record in English football is 60 scored by Everton’s Dixie Dean. That record was set 94 years ago. Haaland might just pass that.
He arrived at the Etihad Stadium this summer on the back of an incredible record at Borussia Dortmund where he was scoring a goal a game. Many felt he would struggle to keep up those standards in the Premier League, the toughest league in the world. But he has proved them wrong in spectacular fashion. He has settled straight away from Germany to England and once his City teammates become more accustomed to his game, he will become even more lethal up front. Now, that is a frightening thought.
Pep Guardiola’s side had been operating with a ‘false nine’ for the past two seasons but now they have the complete package leading their attack. Some felt their fluid patterns of play would have to be ditched to accommodate the new man mountain and that they would become a long ball team with him up front. How wrong they were. City are playing even more intricate football with Haaland. Guardiola has won every title there is at City apart for the one he craves the most – the Champions League. With Haaland leading the attack, he knows he has the best chance now.
And finally, just let this sink in for minute; while other Premier League stars will be toiling away at the Qatar World Cup in November and December, Haaland will have a month off to recharge his batteries as Norway did not qualify. That means he will be fresh and raring to go once the league starts again with his appetite for goalscoring even stronger. For opposition defences, that is a frightening thought...