The Austrian Bundesliga to the Premier League is a road few have travelled, but the recent rumours linking Erling Braut Haaland to Manchester United are exciting. The Athletic report that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has deployed his favoured scout to keep a close watch on the Norweigen goal-scoring sensation with a view to a transfer.
The potential move has long been speculated about on social media, with United fans making the obvious links between their current manager and the young striker. They both hail from Norway and worked together at Molde in the recent past. A lot has been written about the lack of pull the club have under Solskjaer to attract the very best players. He doesn’t have the allure that Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola have, as he isn’t proven at the very highest level. However, incredibly, he may be best placed to attract the hottest prospect in Europe in 2019, due to his previous working relationship with the striker and reputation in Norway.
Haaland is having an explosive season in front of goal with 26 goals across all competitions. It would be easy to criticise the quality of his domestic league, but the Norweigen striker is currently the top scorer in the Champions League with seven. Red Bull Salzburg aren’t expected to qualify for the next round, therefore to have his record in a weaker team underlines his huge potential. At 19-years-old, his consistency is unrivalled as he has managed to score in every group game, including goals away against Liverpool and Napoli.
It is his form in the Champions League that has made Haaland the hottest property in European football. There hasn’t been a breakout season for a teenager in the competition since Kylian Mbappe during Monaco’s run to the semi-final in 2017. The underlying stats signify that the Salzburg striker has the quality to maintain his recent scoring run. According to FB Ref , his expected goals (xG) in the competition is 4.4, which is the highest of any player. This is an extraordinary achievement for a player operating in the Austrian Bundesliga. His total of seven goals shows that he is already a quality finisher, despite his tender years.
Taking penalties out of the equation, his non-penalty expected goals in the Champions League is 2.9, which ranks him as the 6th most dangerous attacker from open play. This is a higher total than Cristiano Ronaldo (2.6) and Mohamed Salah (2.8), which again underlines the high performance level of the Norweigen international.
The playing style of Haaland is perfect to thrive in the Premier League. The 19-year-old comes alive in the penalty box, as his instinctive finishing shows. His composure when through on goal is impressive for a teenager and he has yet to look overawed by any new level he has competed at. There was excitement among those who were aware of his talent about how he would develop in Austria. However, even his biggest supporters wouldn’t have expected the impact he has had in the Champions League. His elite mentality is already obvious.
Haaland is a physical striker, capable of dominating an opposition defender and win balls in the air. In addition to physicality, the teenager is explosive and looks to run at defenders in the final third, which can be very difficult to defend against. He has the raw assets to become the best striker in the world.
There will be no shortage of suitors for Haaland, with many believing he has already outgrown the Austrian Bundesliga after a matter of months. The links between Salzburg and RB Leipzig mean that a move to join the Bundesliga side may be the logical next step. However, Haaland’s impact in the Champions League may mean bigger and more lucrative offers are forthcoming.
Manchester United makes sense in a lot of ways, as Solskjaer is trying to refresh the squad with younger players. Haaland could be their striker for the next decade and he has the potential to be the best player in the position. The links between the manager and player could allow United to skip the queue and secure a huge coup in the transfer market.