The go-to curio about Erling Braut Haaland is that he is the son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland. Give it a couple of years however and the retired pro will be legitimately and entirely understandably boasting to all and sundry that he is the father of Erling.
Despite long being touted as a talent of real promise, the Red Bull Salzburg striker has rocketed into world football’s consciousness these past couple of weeks due to a scoring spree that amazes. Eleven goals in his first eight games in the Austrian Bundesliga – 17 in 10 across all competitions – equates to hitting the ground running and then some and is a tally that includes three headline-making hat-tricks. If that were not impressive enough, last week the teenage prodigy scored yet another treble in his Champions League debut as Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2.
This staggering show of intent follows a highly successful spell in Norway where the domineering attacker scored 12 goals in 25 appearances during his introductory season with Molde. It was an opening declaration of his prolificacy that had then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compare him to Romelu Lukaku and inevitably it also led to interest forming from bigger clubs, namely and aptly – given his manager’s later switch – Manchester United.
It was to Salzburg he went, though, largely due to the club’s fine record in giving a stage to then selling on their youth, with Sadio Mane serving as a prime example.
Haaland’s feats of late have grabbed everybody’s attention but that is simply a continuation of the ripples he made in the summer when the Leeds-born hit man fired a jaw-dropping nine goals in a single game for the Norwegian under 20s in a merciless rout of Honduras.
That is what is most note-worthy about Erling Braut Haaland: his achievements are so stunning that his entire media presence seems to be based on the unbelievability of his goal scoring prowess.
In the summer, ESPN sources claimed that the Red Devils were scouting the teenage hitman but he eventually moved to Austria to ply his trade at a club that, as Mane’s example underlines, can be considered a stepping stone into one of Europe’s top four leagues.
Naturally, his latest salvos have induced a fresh round of transfer speculation and once again Manchester United are reportedly at the fore with this time Barcelona joining them for company.
While speaking to TV2 (via Daily Mirror), Haaland lauded Solskjaer and spoke of his admiration for the English game and those quotes are bound to fuel speculation regarding his potential to springboard into Europe’s elite.
Until recently it seemed somewhat far-fetched to surmise that Old Trafford could be a possible destination what with his father’s sour history with the club following Roy Keane’s infamous challenge and the fact that Haaland Jr is an avowed Leeds United supporter. Yet a statement this week from dad – who remains an influential presence over his off-spring – describing the interest as ‘nice’ suggests a door could now be open.
Furthermore, it is a move that makes a lot of sense with United actively seeking a replacement for the departed Lukaku because who better than the player their present manager believes is a younger equivalent?
Wherever he goes however the future looks extremely bright indeed for a teenage phenomenon who seemingly cannot stop scoring and scoring at a rate that astounds. He is a talent who has already been called “a beast” and even labelled “the manchild” at Molde at an age where most players just get called their surname but with a ‘Y’ on the end.
Occasionally – very occasionally – a footballer comes along who rips up conventional standards.
His name is Erling Braut Haaland.