Ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, all eyes are on Erling Haaland with the Norway striker’s camp holding talks with most of Europe’s big spenders ahead of a potential summer move. The 20-year-old has established himself as one of the world’s most prolific forwards, first attracting global attention at RB Salzburg and with a stunning performance for Norway at the Under-20 World Cup in 2019, where he scored nine goals in a single game, before going on to light up the Bundesliga after Dortmund paid what now can only be considered a bargain fee of around €20m. If reports surrounding Haaland’s potential change of scenery in June are to be believed, it will cost suitors somewhere in the region of €150m to land the Norwegian now as he looks to cement his place as heir apparent to the great goal-scorers of our time, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Robert Lewandowski,
In the meantime, two questions are raised by the meeting of his father Alf-Inge’s former club City and Dortmund: can Haaland fire the Bundesliga side to Champions League glory this season, torpedoing another attempt by Guardiola to guide the Premier League bigwigs into the final, and if City are eliminated at the boots of “the Terminator,” will the Premier League side’s resolve not to get embroiled in a bidding war for his services be broken?
Haaland’s Dortmund explosion
Haaland record haul to date
- First Dortmund player to score on Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal debut
- Quickest player ever to score ten Champions League goal for a club
Scoring 10 Champions League goals in just seven appearances for Dortmund, Haaland became the quickest player to get there, and by three games. (Previous record: Roy Makaay, Bayern Munich, 10 games).
He also became the fastest player to 20 Champions League goals in the 2020-21 last 16, beating Harry Kane’s mark by 10 games.
Haaland has scored hat-tricks in the Champions League, the German and Austrian Bundesligas and for the Norway national team.
Haaland also holds the world record for the longest standing long jump for a five-year-old. Back in 2006 he raised the age-group bar to a distance of 1.63m.
The Norway striker made his debut for Borussia Dortmund with a bang. Following his move from Salzburg, Haaland came off the bench against Augsburg after 56 minutes and scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 win, which offered a taste of things to come. In fact, after playing a total of just 59 minutes after joining Dortmund, the youngster was given the Player of the Month award: hardly surprising as he has required just 57 minutes to net his first five goals for Dortmund. After 137 minutes he had made it seven.
As of now, Haaland has scored a Ronaldoesque 49 goals in 50 games for Dortmund, scoring 33 in 32 appearances this season. The Champions League is often considered the great leveller in European football: if a striker can score goals in the continent’s elite club competition then he is genuinely a force to be reckoned with. Haaland has been making it look easy.
After finding the net twice in the second leg of Dortmund’s last-16 tie against Sevilla, Haaland became the first player to net two or more in four consecutive games (against Club Brugge and Sevilla). He has also smashed Harry Kane’s record as the fastest player to 20 Champions League goals, requiring just 14 games to reach that mark compared to the England captain’s 24.
The Norway international has scored in every Champions League game this season, bagging 10 overall in six outings.
Haaland chasing down Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski
The question now is not so much how far can Haaland go, but how quickly can he get there? He has remained reasonably untroubled by injury during his early career, a muscle tear that kept him sidelined during December 2020 being about the extent of it so far among the standard game or two missed with knocks, niggles and injuries.
Taking the three above-mentioned players into account – Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski – and extrapolating Haaland’s scoring exploits across the next 15 years, we can get an idea of just how incredible a talent the Dortmund striker is.
At the age of 20, Haaland has bagged over 100 senior goals, numbers 99 and 100 coming inside the first 10 minutes of a Klassiker contest against Bayern Munich last month. By comparison, it took Ronaldo 305 senior games to reach the milestone (although it is worth noting the Portuguese holds the record for the quickest century at one club after banging in 100 in 105 games at Real Madrid). Behind Haaland on that list are Zlatan Ibrahimovic (245), Messi (210) and Kylian Mbappé (180). It took Haaland 146 games.
Looking at Ronaldo (887), Ibrahimovic (832) and Messi’s (801) career club appearance totals, at his current rate Haaland is on course to score 500 goals if he reaches 750 club games. Ronaldo’s career total stands at 669, Messi’s at 674 and Ibrahimovic’s at 502. Lewandowski, perhaps stylistically the most similar of these players to Haaland, has scored 478 in 692 club matches.
But what Haaland could do remains in the realm of speculation. What he has achieved is to better records set by the likes of Ronaldo and Messi in this generation, as well as setting himself on course to match the staggering goals per game ratios of the Argentinean and the Portuguese.
Haaland to add gold to glister?
But if by his gongs shall a man be known, Haaland still has some way to go. Ronaldo and Messi have hoovered up the Golden Shoe award in 10 of the past 13 seasons and Lewandowski is on course to win this year’s award with 35 Bundesliga goals to his name, which would make him the first winner from the Bundesliga since Gerd Müller in 1971-72.
The Ballon d’Or is something Haaland could be considered in the running for, particularly if he leads Dortmund to Champions League glory, but all things considered it may take one simple step to transform the Norwegian into the greatest goal-scorer of his generation, or indeed of all time: replacing one of those three at the clubs they currently play for, or ones they have represented in the past.