It’s almost exactly a year since Erling Haaland made his debut for Borussia Dortmund, and over the course of that wild 12 months he has more than delivered on his promise as one of Europe’s top young talents.
And the 20-year-old laid down another big marker in Saturday’s win at Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig when he broke a record formerly held by Uwe Seeler, one of the most famed strikers in the history of German football.
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With his brace in Dortmund’s 3-1 victory (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.), Haaland set a new Bundesliga record by scoring a phenomenal 25 goals in his first 25 league games in the German top flight.
Hamburg legend Seeler’s long-standing record of 23 goals in the same number of games dates back to the Bundesliga’s inaugural 1963-64 season. Marek Mintal is third on the all-time list, having scored 21 goals in his first 25 Bundesliga games for Nurnberg back in 2005. Roy Maakay is fourth (20 goals in 25 games) while Paco Alcacer, a predecessor of Haaland’s at Dortmund, is eighth after roaring out of the blocks with 18 goals in his first 25 league games upon joining the club in 2018-19.
Haaland’s record-breaking 25 goals for Dortmund have come from just 73 shots, giving him a scarcely believable conversion rate of 34.24%. He’s also averaging a league goal once every 75 minutes, which is a better ratio than any other player in Bundesliga history to have scored 10 goals or more.
To brand Haaland a bargain buy is underselling his value-for-money return by several orders of magnitude. In all competitions thus far, the 20-year-old striker has pitched in with 35 goals in 34 competitive games since Dortmund signed the Manchester United target from FC Salzburg in January 2020 for an initial fee of just €20 million.
It didn’t take him long to get up and running either — roughly 180 seconds, in fact — after coming off the bench in the 56th minute to make his debut against Augsburg on Jan. 18 last year, and before the final whistle he had scored three goals in the dramatic 5-3 comeback win (although, as far as Germans were concerned, it wasn’t technically a hat trick).
Those strikes sparked a run of five goals in his first two games and then seven in his first three (both feats setting Bundesliga records).
Since then, Haaland has become the first-ever Dortmund player to score on his debuts in the Bundesliga, the German Cup, the Champions League and the German Super Cup.
The Leeds-born Norway international also broke new ground this season when he became the youngest Bundesliga player ever to score four goals in a single game. At the tender age of 20 year and 123 days, and on the day he won the Golden Boy award as Europe’s best young player, Haaland shovelled four goals past Hertha Berlin in November.
Haaland is, unsurprisingly, also the youngest player to score a Bundesliga hat trick, usurping the record Walter Bechtold had held since 1965 when he scored three goals for Eintracht Frankfurt as a teenager. U.S. teenager Matthew Hoppe leapt straight into third place on the list following his three-goal haul on Saturday, which ended Schalke’s 30-match winless run with a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim.
The Dortmund poacher has scored at least twice in eight of his 25 appearances in the German top flight to date — three braces, one hat trick, and one four-goal extravaganza.
🖤💛 Erling Braut Haaland 🚀🤯
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 22, 2020
Such is his style, Haaland entered the Champions League scene with gusto, marking his first competition appearance with a hat trick in Salzburg’s 6-2 drubbing of Genk. Amazingly, it was already the then-19-year-old striker’s fourth hat trick of the season.
It was no fluke either, as Haaland has maintained his formidable continental form since moving to Dortmund, where he became the quickest player ever to reach the 10-goal mark in Champions League history, taking just seven appearances to do so (four fewer than anybody else).
That milestone came in February 2020, when the Dortmund star scored both goals in his side’s 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
Haaland called his second goal of the evening (an unstoppable left-footed missile from outside the area) the “best goal he’s ever scored” and it’s not hard to see why.
The Dortmund forward was so awestruck by his own handiwork that he reached a state of zen and chose to celebrate with a quick bit of cross-legged meditation on the Signal Iduna Park pitch.
Unfortunately, Haaland’s serene pose soon came back to haunt him as PSG fought back to win the second leg 2-0 and advance to the quarterfinals.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 11, 2020
Given his mercurial calendar year with Dortmund, his first in one of Europe’s big five leagues, it should come as no surprise to learn that Haaland is now one of world football’s most valuable players.
According to CIES Football Observatoy’s latest transfer value list, Haaland has enjoyed a bigger surge in his estimated market value than any other player across Europe’s top divisions after leaping 13 rungs up the ladder in the last six months.
While Marcus Rashford may top the list with an estimated transfer value of €165m ($204m), Haaland is tucked in just behind the Manchester United man in second place after seeing his value swell from €107.3m up to €152m since last June, thus catapulting him all the way up from 15th place.
The way things are going for Haaland right now, it’s hard to see his stock doing anything but rise higher in 2021.
ESPN’s Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld contributed to this report