Sunday, July 3

The staggering numbers that made Haaland the world’s most-wanted centre-forward

After months of speculation, the cat is finally out of the bag: Erling Haaland is about to enter the next phase of his meteoric career this summer when he completes his transfer from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

Since making his professional debut as a 15-year-old in 2017, the Norwegian sensation has rocketed straight to the very top of the game to the point where he’s become the most coveted young centre-forward in world football.

After speculation that a deal with City had been reached increased in recent weeks, the Premier League side announced on Tuesday that the 21-year-old would be on his way to the Etihad Stadium this summer. Sources have told ESPN that City activated a release clause with €60 million to sign Haaland, and he will sign a five-year contract worth £375,000 a week.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Erling, whose father and now agent Alf-Inge Haaland represented City between 2000-02 during the latter stages of his own playing career.

Here’s a breakdown of the prolific output that transformed Haaland from a breakout wunderkind to one of the most sought-after talents in the game in just a few short years.

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Haaland hit the ground running at Dortmund

After excelling by scoring 29 goals in 27 games as a teenager at Austrian side FC Salzburg, it wasn’t long before Haaland made the step up to elite European football when he signed for Bundesliga club Dortmund during the winter break of the 2019-20 season.

The transfer, for an initial fee of €20m, was made official on Jan. 1, 2020 and since that time the striker has continued in much the same vein, scoring vast amounts of goals at an astonishingly consistent rate that almost equates to 1:1, i.e. a goal every game.

Haaland has netted 85 times for Dortmund in just 88 games (a precise ratio of 0.96 goals per game) including 61 goals in 66 Bundesliga games, 15 goals in 13 Champions League matches, eight goals in seven DFB Pokal games, and one goal in two German Supercup appearances.

That equates to an average of one goal scored every 83.8 minutes in the 7,125 total minutes he’s spent on the pitch for Dortmund. In the Bundesliga alone, the ruthlessly efficient forward scored his first 50 league goals in the space of just 50 games. Truly outrageous stuff.

Proving that he’s no one-trick pony when it comes to attacking involvement, Haaland has also amassed a total of 23 assists for Dortmund in all competitions: 19 in the Bundesliga, two in the Champions League, and then one apiece in the German Cup and Supercup.

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Breakdown of goals for Dortmund

A closer look at Haaland’s goal haul at Dortmund reveals the kind of visceral, instinctive, and powerful striker he has become. The vast majority of his 85 competitive goals have been scored from inside the penalty area (82), with only three finding the net from range.

Although nominally left-footed, he has also scored a fair number of goals with his right while his aerial ability is also not to be overlooked. In short, when stationed in front of goal he’s pretty much the complete package.

As well as his close-range positioning, Haaland can also count on his raw speed across the ground to open up chances for himself, a good example being his second goal in Dortmund’s 2-0 away win over Wolfsburg in 2020-21 when the Norwegian was clocked at a speed of 22 mph as he broke the entire length of the pitch to score a solo special.

A total of 71 goals scored by Haaland for Dortmund have come from open play, with 63 being assisted by teammates. Furthermore, well over half (49) of Haaland’s 85 goals have been scored with his first touch, emphasising the striker’s innate ability to time his runs to perfection in order to race in and apply the final touch to an attacking move, though it must be noted that 11 of them were penalty kicks.


Key attributes

Haaland’s style is typified by his scorching pace, deadly accuracy, and daunting physical prowess.

In all competitions for Dortmund this season (2021-22), the 21-year-old striker has scored 28 goals from 90 shots overall with 53 shots on target. Therefore, over half (52%) of the shots he has attempted this campaign have found the target and over a quarter (27%) have resulted in a goal being scored.

He now has 21 goals in 23 games to his name in the Bundesliga this campaign after having most recently scored a hat trick in Dortmund’s recent 4-3 defeat against Bochum, despite only attempting four shots on goal during the entire game.

Potent finishing aside, it’s perhaps Haaland’s sheer speed that remains the most intimidating weapon in his arsenal. His electrifying threat on the counter-attack was given major prominence during a Champions League tie between Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in February 2020 when the striker was clocked sprinting 60 metres in just 6.64 seconds.

According to Sky Italia’s postmatch analysis of that game, Haaland’s pace was only 0.30 seconds shy of the 60-metre sprint world record, set at 6.34 seconds by Christian Coleman of the United States in the men’s final at the World Indoor Championships in 2018 (albeit from a stationary start).

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Perhaps most impressively, the counter-attack in question began with Haaland in a defensive position, leaping to head a corner clear inside his own six-yard box before swiftly overtaking most of his teammates as Dortmund broke upfield en masse.

Not bad for a 6-foot-4 centre-forward.


How Haaland compares to the best in Europe

Since his move to Dortmund became official on the first day of 2020, Haaland has scored 85 competitive goals for the German club. Only two players in Europe’s top five leagues have scored more: Kylian Mbappe (89 goals) of PSG and Robert Lewandowski (122 goals) of Bayern Munich.

Haaland is actually joint-third with Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the new City striker has amassed his tally in significantly fewer games — just 88. All of the three stars — Lewandowski, Mbappe, and Ronaldo — have played over 100 games in that same span (a little shy of two-and-a-half years).


Records broken at Dortmund

As well as scoring goals for fun, Haaland has sent a number of records tumbling during his stint at Dortmund, a trend that began the day he made his debut for the club on January 18th, 2020.

The then-19-year-old came off the bench against FC Augsburg with his side trailing 3-1 at the WWK ARENA. He then proceeded to stage a one-man comeback by scoring a hat trick with his first three shots inside the first 23 minutes of his first Bundesliga appearance as Dortmund rallied to win 5-3. It was also the first time a Dortmund player had scored three goals on his debut since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did likewise some seven years previously, coincidentally also against Augsburg.

Things continued to go from strength to strength as Haaland also became the fastest player in a century to rack up 25 goals in any of Europe’s top five leagues — doing so in just 25 Bundesliga matches.

Haaland is also the first Dortmund player ever to score on his debuts in the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal, and the Champions League. He certainly has a penchant for coming flying out of the traps.


Champions League records broken

As well as dominating domestically, Haaland has also kept the ball rolling on the Champions League front after first breaking onto the continental scene with eight goals in his first six European outings for Salzburg as an 18-year-old. One of the first major accolades he acquired was becoming the first player ever on record to score for two different teams in the same Champions League season (Salzburg and Dortmund).

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Among the other milestones he’s surpassed in the UEFA competition, Haaland is the first-ever player to score multiple goals in four consecutive Champions League games. This golden streak began with two goals against Club Brugge in the 2020-21 group stage then another two against the Belgians in the return fixture, followed by back-to-back braces in both legs of Dortmund’s subsequent round-of-16 tie against Sevilla.

Continuing with the familiar goal-scoring theme, Haaland is the second-youngest player (19 years and 212 days) to reach 10 goals in the Champions League behind Mbappe (18 years and 350 days), though he is the fastest to reach double figures.

Haaland did successfully pip Mbappe to become the youngest player to reach 20 goals in the competition and also holds the record for taking the fewest amount of games (14) to reach 20 goals in the competition.

No single player has scored more Champions League goals before turning 21 than Haaland, and with 23 goals he is also by far and away the highest-scoring Norwegian player in European Cup history, eclipsing fellow countrymen Harald Brattbakk (21) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (20).

Since his Champions League debut on Sept. 17, 2019 — when he scored a hat trick for Salzburg in a 6-2 thrashing of Genk — Haaland is the third-highest goal scorer in the competition behind only Karim Benzema (26 goals) and Robert Lewandowski (33).

But while Lewandowski and Benzema have played 26 and 29 Champions League games respectively in that time, Haaland has reached his total in just 19 matches.


Reasons to be cautious?

The one blot of Haaland’s copybook in his exceptional career thus far is that he has already suffered a number of injuries, spending a total of 143 days out of action since joining Dortmund.

He suffered just one injury in his debut season (2019-20) that resulted in missing two games but that rose to four injuries in 2020-21 (missing 10 games), and four injuries in 2021-22 (missing 16 games in total).

Perhaps the only person who can save Premier League defenders from suffering the same fate as their Bundesliga counterparts next season is Haaland himself. But if City can keep him fit, expect to see more records tumble soon.

ESPN’s Stats & Information Group contributed to this report

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