The most seasoned and experienced strikers in football are usually the older and more aged ones. Moreso, the striker role is one that requires such experience that hardly any youngsters fully make their mark from the very start. One young lad who is defying all odds is Salzburg’s in-form sensation Erling Braut Haaland. After officially joining Salzburg on January 1 this year, Erling was eased into things in Austria.
Back to club life in Salzburg and Erling started the Austrian Bundesliga campaign on fire, scoring 11 goals and supplying five assists in the opening eight league games (Transfermarkt), the kind of form that sees most markets of sports betting in Austria label Salzburg as clear favourites to lift the title at the end of the season.
Haaland took that form on the continental stage as well and has scored four Champions League goals in two appearances. Playing only 106 minutes of Champions League action so far means Haaland has averaged a goal every 27 minutes (Transfermarkt) and is the competition’s joint top-scorer alongside Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry. It gets better that he has a 100% conversion rate as well. Quite the perfect introduction to the biggest stage of European football. To add to that, one of his four Champions League goals also came against European Champions Liverpool and he is not one to shy against tougher opposition as well.
With his first-half demolition of Genk at RB Salzburg’s Red Bull Arena earlier this month, Haaland became the first teenager since Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick on his Champions League debut. In his own territory, he became the first teenager to score a first-half hat-trick in the Champions League.
02' ⚽️ Håland
34' ⚽️ Håland
45' ⚽️ Håland
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 17, 2019
The goals – a first-time toe-poke with his right foot, a side-footed finish with his left and a poacher’s effort from inside Genk’s six-yard box showed how much of an all-round aspect he has to his game.
The 19-year-old is enjoying a breakthrough season with the Salzburg and is on his way to establishing himself as one of the most exciting young forwards in the game.
The hat-trick was, remarkably, his fourth of the campaign, a feat which has propelled his name into headlines across Europe. And that’s before we even consider the nine goals – yes, nine – he scored for Norway in their 12-0 win over Honduras at the U20 World Cup at the end of May.
Haaland has showcased ruthless finishing ability so far this season and also his movement in the penalty area is advanced for someone of his tender years. His pedigree is getting to a respectable level already and there is still more to come from the teenager. He doesn’t just offer goals but his clinical touch is right up there in the elite category at the moment.
1 – Erling Håland 🇳🇴 has become the first player to score 4 goals with his first 4 shots in the Champions League since Opta analyses the competition (2003/04)
⚽️⚽️⚽️ v Genk
⚽️ v Liverpool
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) October 3, 2019
Even in the early stages of his career, it’s clear the Salzburg forward has many positive facets in his play. Comfortable running with the ball from deep or waiting on the shoulder of the last defender, at 6’3” and with rapid pace he is difficult to stop once he is in full flow. His rocket of a left foot and precision from the penalty spot only adds to the perception that he may be the full package when it comes to the modern-day no.9.
Standing at a towering 6’3, the young striker has an intimidating figure and is also a threat in aerial situations. At his former Norwegian club Molde, he was nicknamed “Manchild” because of his size and age and was often allowed to play with older teammates and age groups because of his rapid development (BBC).
It’s no surprise a host of European clubs are interested in the teenager and it would be a fierce battle for whoever secures his services eventually. The likes of Manchester United, Juventus, Napoli and Liverpool to name a few are seriously linked with the youngster and no doubt his future will be the talk of the moment till he does make a decision. However, Manchester United are heavy favourites to land the youngster due to his connection with Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as it was the Norwegian that signed Haaland for Molde from his first club, Bryne.
In a time where United desperately need a “prolific” striker, he could be the saviour to their lack of goals, literally. In actual fact, the 19-year-old has more goals than the entire United squad this season. Make of that what you will.
Man Utd in 2019/20 so far: 10 games, 11 goals
Erling Braut Håland for Salzburg in 2019/20 so far: 11 games, 18 goals
Don't expect the rumours to stop any time soon. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/YDVMYjX0GQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2019
Haaland is a man on top form at the moment and we can expect some transfer record fees to be broken in a bid to get his services. His talents surely don’t reflect his age and the good news is he will only get better with time. If his start to Europe has gone this remarkable, we can only imagine where his quality will lie in a few seasons from now – if he does maintain this steady level of development.