Natural-born goalscorer Haaland has world at his feet

Natural-born goalscorer Haaland has world at his feet

© AFP 2022
April 30, 2023 at 3:55 PM
Manchester City forward Erling Haaland has smashed records in his first season in the Premier League
Manchester City forward Erling Haaland has smashed records in his first season in the Premier League. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Erling Haaland's feat in equalling the record for the number of Premier League goals in a season makes a mockery of the idea that it takes time to settle in the English top flight.

The Norway powerhouse scored a penalty in Manchester City's 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday to move to 34 league goals -- level with the mark set by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.

In the process the 22-year-old scored his 50th goal of the season for City in all competitions.

The Norwegian's strike rate puts even his much-vaunted predecessors, who played in the era of 42-game seasons, in the shade.

Shearer started all 42 matches of the 1994/95 season as he fired Blackburn to the title, while Cole made 40 appearances the previous year for Newcastle.

Haaland has needed just 30 games to reach 34 goals, having already raced past Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to set a new record for a 38-game season.

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Manchester City striker Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Fulham
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Fulham. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

"If you were building a centre-forward from the ground up, Erling is what you would be left with," Shearer told The Athletic.

"He's a goal machine, someone who is quick and direct, who is physically strong and good in the air, who can score with both feet and whose positioning is fantastic."

City's determination to win the battle among Europe's elite clubs for the striker's signature last year has been rewarded in spectacular fashion.


Pep Guardiola's men won back-to-back league titles playing largely without an attacking focal point but any suggestion they could be thrown off course by Haaland's arrival has proved unfounded.

"He is a gift to all of us," said Guardiola. "He is a huge competitor, his mentality is there."

Haaland has now hit his half-century in all competitions this season -- with City close to matching Manchester United's historic treble of 1998/99.

The English champions face Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League and take on Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3.

This is the stage Haaland craved when deciding to follow his father's footsteps and join City 12 months ago.

Alf-Inge Haaland was a tough-tackling midfielder prior to an Abu Dhabi-backed takeover in 2008 that made City one of the world's richest clubs and transformed their fortunes.

But his Erling was a natural-born goalscorer who has already become a global superstar.

Alf-Inge has been credited with careful management of his son's steady rise through the ranks of European football.

Haaland made his debut for his home-town club Bryne aged just 15 before signing for Molde, then managed by former Manchester United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in 2017.

Less than two years later he moved again, joining Austrian club Salzburg.

In 2019 Haaland offered an early insight into the devastation he can wreak, scoring nine times in a 12-0 hammering of Honduras at the Under-20 World Cup.

But it was his explosion onto the Champions League scene that really caught the eye, with eight goals in six games in the 2019/20 season.

There was speculation of a reunion with Solskjaer, then in charge of United, but Borussia Dortmund won the race, boosted by their reputation for developing young talent.

Two-and-a-half years and 86 goals in 89 games later, Haaland had his pick of clubs thanks to a cannily negotiated 60 million euro ($67 million, £53 million) buyout clause that left Dortmund short-changed.

City have cashed in, with Haaland's goals leaving them close to a cherished treble and burnishing their newfound status as one of the world's leading clubs.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022