Erling Haaland — a goal-scoring machine primed to prosper in Premier League
Despite concerns about his ability to settle into the rigours of the English Premier League, Manchester City’s new Norwegian striker has proved to be a priceless piece to the club’s project so far.
In recent seasons, Manchester City have been the dominant force in English football. However, one side has at times been a thorn in their side — Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s charges had failed to beat the London-based club last season, losing one match and drawing one.
As such, when Palace paced into a commanding 2-0 against the Citizens halfway through the first stanza in their most recent clash a week ago, it looked like that trend would continue.
Then up stepped Norwegian striking monstrosity Erling Haaland. The 22-year-old flipped the game on its head with an impressive 19-minute hat-trick. This was his first for his father’s former club, and his 13th career hat-trick.
With that impressive three-goal haul, the Norwegian star took his tally for club and country to 161 goals in 148 matches, an impressive return by any stretch of the imagination.
For City specifically, Haaland has six goals and a single assist in four games to date. That pre-season Community Shield match versus Liverpool where he looked out of place in City’s ultra-passing system seems a distant memory.
“Erling Haaland is a top striker. His move should help us to grow as a team. Everybody expects a lot,” City’s assist king Kevin De Bruyne said when Haaland joined the club.
“They’ve always been looking for a number nine. It’ll be good to have that striker that can maybe score 20-25 goals a season [for us].”
Haaland’s pace, power and composure in front of goal usually take the spotlight. However, even when he doesn’t score or assist, his movement in and around the opposition goal area is vital and dangerous, as his manager pointed out after the victory against Palace.
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“He came for that. When you have a feeling that he is not involved in the game, he is always there,” Guardiola said.
“As a striker it is incredible. He does not touch the ball, but he has the feeling the ball is there and he is always involved.”
Before signing Haaland, the Manchester club had been on the hunt for a lethal number nine, following the dissipating deadliness of the team’s all-time leading goal scorer and City’s Argentine legend Sergio Aguero.
Though Haaland had been in high demand across Europe and didn’t require excessive secret scouting, City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak credited the club’s scouting department for his eventual signing.
The Norwegian is the fastest and youngest to reach 20 Uefa Champions League goals. In 2021 the forward reached the landmark in just 14 games. The previous record holder, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, managed it in 10 games more.
“We have a very strong scouting system, a scouting team that has shown over the years this capability in analysing and really scouting the type of talent that will fit our club and our team,” said Al Mubarak.
“We have, in Haaland, the best number nine in the world; at the right age. Look at the next 10-15 years, in Haaland we have invested in that striker for the future.”
Though he is undoubtedly a prized investment, Haaland will also be key for Manchester City this season if they are to finally win a maiden and elusive Champions League title. DM