When Pep Guardiola tearfully insisted in May 2021 that Manchester City could not replace the departed Sergio Aguero, he didn’t just create a meme. Guardiola was soft-launching worldwide auditions for the team’s new attacking talisman. In the summer of 2021, during the two seasons in which Ilkay Gundogan (13 goals) and Kevin De Bruyne (15 goals) were the club’s top league scorers and won the title, the pursuit of Harry Kane failed. Guardiola’s sophisticated creative machine needed a new frontman and they found him in Erling Haaland.
Like Aguero before him, and in contrast to many of City’s most successful players during the Pep era, Haaland emerged as a bona fide superstar, an instant addition to an already impressive line-up. Whether he was a bargain is another question. The termination fee paid was €60m (about £51.2m), but some reports suggest Haaland’s five-year deal could cost the club around £300m. There was an eerie logic to City’s rivals’ moves, but questions remained.
Haaland, who was just 21 when he arrived, had built a reputation for big numbers and raw physical features. Will he be able to secure his place in Guardiola’s sophisticated system, which requires players to play multiple roles? And will his new manager break with tradition and rebuild the squad to accommodate an all-out goalscorer? It was a problem he had with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his time at Barcelona. The Swedish striker said Guardiola “bought a Ferrari, filled it with diesel and drove around the countryside.”
Will Haaland also struggle to get into top gear? A clumsy, if enthusiastic, performance in the Community Shield in August 2022 raised concerns, but he showed killer instincts in his first league game for West Ham. He came close behind with two precise runs. In the first he won a penalty and converted it, and in the second he pounced on Kevin De Bruyne’s pass and finished with ease. Doubts are gone. That didn’t happen with the goal. Haaland played 35 league games in his debut season, scoring 36 goals, a Premier League record.
His goals often came in rapid-fire bursts, including three in 19 minutes against Palace and a crucial first-half hat-trick in the rout of Nottingham Forest. He scored a hat-trick in the Manchester derby with a dominant performance, exemplified by his rushing finish on De Bruyne’s perfect cross. This generation of goal scorers fit in well with teams blessed with creative flair, dunking on Premier League defenses at will. One goal against Brighton was almost comical in its violence, with Haaland running at breakneck speed to clear Ederson and bulldozing everyone in his path.
Guardiola has not yet built a first-line squad, but Haaland’s qualities give City a secondary advantage and are another key to unlocking the selection of defenders.Of his 35 goals, all but one were scored from inside the box, where he is devastatingly accurate. Haaland may seem like a simple player at first glance – he’s very big and exceptionally fast – but he also has great attacking awareness and a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
From scoring nine goals in one game for Norway’s Under-20s to garnering public attention and rising to the top of the rankings, Haaland’s childhood love of soccer and desire to relentlessly score in any way he could was… I continue to have it. Consider this acrobatic finish against underdog Southampton, or his latest feat against Chelsea. “He had never scored a goal with his own ball before,” he cheerfully revealed after the game.
In the Champions League, Haaland further developed himself, as City won the European trophy that had eluded them until now. In the group stage match against Dortmund, he scored the winning goal late on by roundhouse kicking the ball at his head height. The most shocking burst of goals this year came against Leipzig in the last 16, when he scored five goals in the 35 minutes before being substituted, perhaps out of sympathy. Despite scoring domestically, Haaland appears to be saving his spare gear for Europe.
The 23-year-old’s Champions League scoring record is 40 goals in 35 games. He is one game behind Aguero, and he has played less than half the number of games the Argentine has. Haaland’s form slowed as City progressed towards trophies, but he remained a key player. He scored twice in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich, the second goal coming on a counter-punch in the final in the second leg back in Germany. Haaland also scored an important goal at the Etihad. Finding space on the left, he crossed for Bernardo Silva and moved very close to goal.
It’s a subtle sign of evolution, with the target man tweaking his game to work more closely with his teammates. Haaland scored three goals against last season’s title rivals Arsenal, and added two as City were putting the finishing touches on their game. He scored his fourth goal at the Etihad, his 49th of the season, but he was already letting his hair down, literally. It almost feels like a bargain and is an example of the sense of spontaneity Haaland has brought to a team often accused of lacking character.
Undoubtedly ambitious and driven by the pursuit of records and silverware, Haaland remains an exceptional figure as the game’s new global superstar. While Kylian Mbappé, another contender for the title, is mired in the world of PSG politics, Haaland seems incredibly laid back and the only topic of conversation is his choice of leisurewear. . Even if there were tactical doubts about his move to City, his signing made sense from a marketing perspective. An undisputed hero for a club with more mixed success and public image, the striker was also a striker with the world at his feet. boy wearing a sky blue shirt His father Alfie played at Maine Road.
After an extraordinary 18 months in Manchester, Haaland still has room for improvement in this all-conquering team that was loved by fans. Incredibly, there are still long spells in the game where he appears to be peripheral. His teammates will be able to take better advantage of his pace and control in tight spaces behind the defense. He has yet to score against Brentford. On the international front, it was disappointing not to be able to lead Norway to Euro 2024. However, he also played in 29 games there, scoring 27 goals. Numbers don’t lie.
Haaland finished his first season with 52 goals, including 36 in the Premier League, breaking a record that had not been touched since 1995. Despite City’s relative slump this season, his batting average has hardly waned. He currently has 71 goals in 75 games overall. He is already 12th on the club’s all-time top scorers list and there is little reason to think his goals and trophies will be gone any time soon. The question is not whether Haaland can remain at the top of the world, but who can replace him.
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