Erling Haaland: How Manchester City Star Compares to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo at 23 Years

Erling Haaland: How Manchester City Star Compares to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo at 23 Years

Martin Moses
March 15, 2023 at 9:31 AM
  • Erling Haaland has gotten better and better since making his debut for Bryne seven years ago
  • His peer is likely Kylian Mbappe, but they must first overcome Messi and Ronaldo comparisons
  • Haaland's record in front of goal is insane and at only 23 years old, no one comes close to him

In case there was still doubt, Erling Haaland cemented his status as one of the deadliest strikers world football has to offer at the moment with a blistering five-goal show in a Champions League match.

The Manchester City striker dazzled at the Etihad Stadium to see off RB Leipzig and maintain his club's pursuit of a first European title.

Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe
Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring against RB Leipzig on March 14. Photo by Marc Atkins.
Source: Getty Images

Admittedly, his goals might not be as aesthetically pleasing as the ones who came before him, but the Norwegian has mastered the tact of being in the right place, at the right time. And for a striker, that's all you need.

His numbers speak for themselves. He is up to 39 goals in all competitions this season. Throughout his short career, he has basically averaged a goal every 90 minutes.

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There has been talk of him, along with Kylian Mbappe, being the heir apparent of the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo throne.

But how does he compare with the stats of these greats when they were the same age?

Ballon d'Ors

The one thing working against Haaland and Mbappe is the fact that by 23 years of age, both Messi and Ronaldo had won the most lucrative individual award in football history. In fact, Messi had two by then.

Haaland still has an outside shot this year if he can guide Manchester City to a Champions League and Premier League double. But guess who is the favourite once again? Messi.


As an attacker, your moments on the pitch are always defined by goals. This is one area that, at 23 years, no one is coming close to gracing the Norwegian's boots. Beautiful goals or not, he has them. Lots of them, for that matter.

To put this into perspective with his latest achievement, he became the fastest player to reach 30 Champions League goals. He only needed 25 games to cross the 30-goal mark. He broke Mbappe's record who was 116 days older than he was at that time.

By 23 years, Messi had played 269 games and scored 180 goals across all competitions. Ronaldo had 132 goals at that time. The Portuguese star is a late bloomer and most of his achievements have come at an advanced age.

Trophies and assists

The only person who can come close to Messi and Ronaldo in this category is Mbappe. Save for the DFB Pokal and Austrian Bundesliga, Haaland hasn't won any other trophy.

He is also not a great playmaker either compared to the Argentine, whose creative nature gives him an edge over every other player.

Messi and Ronaldo had Champions League titles and other domestic cups by the time they were Haaland's age.

In summary, the Portuguese veteran left Real Madrid having scored 450 goals in a span of nine years - that is, 50 goals a season. Technically, for Haaland to ever dream of reaching such standards, he needs to have a similar or better goal ratio.

He is at 39 for the season and it's only March. The only thing he needs to do now is match Messi's and Ronaldo's trophies and individual awards. He is halfway there as far as goals are concerned.

Guardiola explains Haaland's substitution

Sports Brief has also reported on Haaland's 'argument' with Pep Guardiola after the striker was substituted off in their huge win over RB Leipzig on March 14.

Manchester City put seven goals past their German opposition to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, with the Norwegian grabbing five.

Haaland was withdrawn after the hour mark to a standing ovation from the Etihad Stadium faithful and his manager, who congratulated him on his display.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A
Cristiano RonaldoErling HaalandLionel Messi