As first impressions go, Erling Haaland could hardly have made a better one at Borussia Dortmund. The Norwegian striker has only played a total of 136 minutes for his new club, starting one match and come off the bench in two others, but already has seven goals to his name, scoring in wins over Augsburg, Cologne and Union Berlin.
It’s a remarkable return for a teenager who has barely been at the Westfalenstadion long enough to know the first names of all his new teammates. Not for a generation has a striker looked so certain to spend a decade at the top of the European game as Haaland. He is without doubt the vanguard of the sport’s next crop of goalscorers.
Of course, Haaland was the subject of a transfer market chase over January. The 19-year-old’s astonishing performances for Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League alerted the likes of Juventus and Manchester United, with the latter making a particularly strong play to lure the Norwegian.
In the end, United reportedly refused to bow to the demands of Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, the notoriously hard-nosed operator at the centre of the saga concerning Paul Pogba’s future at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has surely felt a pang of regret at that decision having watched Haaland make such an immediate impact in the Bundesliga.
Haaland won’t be at Dortmund for long, though. The insertion of a release clause in the striker’s contract was reportedly one of the conditions Raiola demanded of Man Utd and it’s reasonable to assume a similar clause exists in the contract Haaland ended up signing in Germany. Dortmund will, most likely, be just another stepping stone.
For all his obvious faults, Raiola is one of the shrewdest mover of players in European football. He recognises the value, and future value, of his clients and so he will have surely plotted a future for Haaland that stretches beyond Dortmund. It’s with this in mind that Raiola likely pushed the Norwegian towards the Westfalenstadion in the first place.
After all, Borussia Dortmund have a track record in giving a platform to promising, young strikers. Take Robert Lewandowski, for example. Comparisons have been drawn between the Polish forward and Haaland, and with good reason. Lewandowski is naturally strong, fast, confident and ruthless in front of goal, flourishing at Dortmund before earning a move to Bayern Munich where he has become arguably the best Bundesliga striker of the past 20 years. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is another who developed his game at the Westfalenstadion before making the £56 million switch to Arsenal in the summer of 2018.
Haaland is just as talented, if not more so, as both Aubameyang and Lacazette were at his age and so there’s every chance that he will follow in their footsteps. At his current scoring rate, there might even be interest in the Norwegian this summer, especially if there is a release clause written into his Dortmund contract.
Some have already speculated that Haaland could quite literally follow in the steps of Lewandowski, with tentative reports that Bayern Munich are monitoring Haaland. Real Madrid might also need a new centre forward in the near future with Karim Benzema into the twilight of his career. And, of course, Man Utd could return for the striker they missed out on last month.
It would be advisable for Haaland to stay for at least 18 months, though. At Dortmund, he will challenge for titles and play in the latter rounds of the Champions League. The Norwegian is surrounded by fellow young stars like Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard, players who will provide him with service of the highest quality. He has no reason to rush through his career.