Look Out, Messi: Erling Haaland Is Coming For Your 50-Goal Club

After Erling Haaland scored twice in his first league game after the World Cup break, a British newspaper described him as “Head and shoulders above the rest”. It was a reference to the Norwegian’s striking long blonde hair and popular brand of shampoo. Since signing for Manchester City last summer, there’s no better way to capture just how much Haaland has dominated English football.

While the reigning English Premier League champions are yet to clinch their third straight title – City trail this season’s surprise Arsenal by five points with 18 games to go – Haaland, on an individual level, more than justified the fear opposing managers felt when is a player with his combination of size (he’s 6-foot-3), speed and skill arrived from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. Entering the new season, the main question was what the striker’s shooting performance would be. Some said he would break Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s EPL record of 34 in one season. Others went further and predicted 40.

Few, if any, said he would eclipse 50. But after 19 games, Haaland has already scored 25 goals. Among the EPL records he has already broken are: fastest player to score 10 goals (six games); the player who scored three three-pointers the fastest (eight games); the fastest player to reach 20 goals (13 games) and the only player to reach 20 goals before January, despite this season featuring a six-week World Cup break. With 18 games to go, he is currently on course for an unprecedented 49 in English football if he plays all of City’s remaining games and maintains his goals-per-game rate.

Haaland is on his way to absolutely break the EPL scoring record

All single seasons with more than 30 goals in English Premier League history, plus Erling Haaland’s full-season proportional pace for 2022-23.

Player Season Team Goals
Erling Haaland* 2022-23 Man City 49
Andrew Cole 1993-94 Newcastle 34
Alan Shearer 1994-95 Blackburn 34
Mohamed Salah 2017-18 Liverpool 32
Cristiano Ronaldo 2007-08 Manchester United 31
Alan Shearer 1993-94 Blackburn 31
Alan Shearer 1995-96 Blackburn 31
Luis Suarez 2013-14 Liverpool 31
Thierry Henry 2003-04 Arsenal 30
Robin van Persie 2011-12 Arsenal 30
Kevin Phillips 1999-00 Sunderland 30
Harry Kane 2017-18 Tottenham 30

*Estimated over a full season of 38 team games, assuming Haaland plays all of Man City’s remaining games and maintains his goal-per-game pace.

Source: Premierleague.com

Whenever Haaland touches the ball — or even comes close to it — defenders across the league are on high alert for potential embarrassment. Surrounded by some of the most gifted playmakers in the world — Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden to name just three — the 50-goal mark is not out of the question this season.

It’s not just English records that Haaland has on his path of destruction. Having seen the best single-season totals ever in Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1, Haaland is rapidly climbing the combined record books of Europe’s Big Five leagues. If the Norwegian striker continues his current strike rate, only Lionel Messi’s mesmerizing 50-goal La Liga campaign for Barcelona in 2011-12 will surpass him. stand on the way to the most goals in the history of the Big Five leagues.

Only Messi’s 50 can stand above Haaland’s goal tally

All individual seasons with more than 40 goals in Europe’s Big Five leagues, plus Erling Haaland’s proportional full-season pace for 2022-23.

Player Season Team League Goals
Lionel Messi 2011-12 Barcelona La Liga 50
Erling Haaland* 2022-23 Man City Premier League 49
Cristiano Ronaldo 2014-15 Real Madrid La Liga 48
Cristiano Ronaldo 2011-12 Real Madrid La Liga 46
Lionel Messi 2012-13 Barcelona La Liga 46
Lionel Messi 2014-15 Barcelona La Liga 43
Robert Lewandowski 2020-21 Bayern Munich Bundesliga 41
Cristiano Ronaldo 2010-11 Real Madrid La Liga 40
Luis Suarez 2015-16 Barcelona La Liga 40

*Estimated over a full season of 38 team games, assuming Haaland plays all of Man City’s remaining games and maintains his goal-per-game pace.

Sources: Premierleague.com, transfermarkt.co.uk

But what makes Haaland’s inaugural EPL campaign even more remarkable is that he is doing it at just 22 years of age. Messi was 24 when he scored 50 and had spent the previous seven seasons building a relationship with Barcelona’s first team. When Cristiano Ronaldo scored 48 goals for Real Madrid three seasons later, he was 29 and in his prime. There’s also the fact that Haaland is doing it in what is considered the richest league — the EPL is forecast to make €7.1 billion this season, almost double that of second-place La Liga, according to Statista — and the best in the world — English teams have had the best UEFA Champions League and Europa League results in the last three seasons, according to UEFA country coefficients.

Similar to Messi and Ronaldo before him, Haaland will forever be compared to a contemporary star: Kylian Mbappé. The French phenom burst onto the scene in 2016-17, when as a 17-year-old he helped Monaco win their first league title in almost two decades with 15 goals. PSG then splashed out £166 million to make him the most expensive teenager ever and the second most expensive player in the world. So far in his already illustrious career, Mbappé has won five Ligue 1 titles, three French Cups and the 2018 FIFA World Cup with France. Following his hat trick in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final last month, the 24-year-old is widely regarded as the best in the world.

Haaland’s trophy cabinet is much emptier in comparison — Haaland won the Austrian Bundesliga and the Austrian Cup with RB Salzburg, and the German Cup with Dortmund. But in terms of individual scoring, it is Haaland who has been the most clinical in front of goal early in his career, compared to any of his three peers.

Haaland’s start to his career puts him ahead of his rivals

Most goals per game in domestic league, Champions League and international competitions through a season by a player aged 22 for Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Player League Champions Lg. International In total Tot. Gms Goals/Gm
Haaland 112 28 21 161 170 0.95
Mbappé 134 29 19 182 262 0.69
Messi 88 25 13 126 238 0.53
Ronaldo 69 11 20 100 282 0.35

Source: fbref.com

As Haaland continues to attack the record books, it’s fitting that the man guiding him towards the pinnacle of the game is the same manager who took Messi to the top. Pep Guardiola is a serial conqueror – the Spaniard has won 14 trophies with Barcelona, ​​seven with Bayern Munich, and in Manchester he has 11 and counting. Moreover, Guardiola has taken countless players with great potential and made them elite. At Barcelona, ​​apart from Messi, Pep has helped the likes of Andres Iniesta and current Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez to take their games to the next level. At Bayern, he did the same with Robert Lewandowski. And now at City, De Bruyne, Rodri and João Cancelo have become arguably the best in the world in their positions.

But with Haaland, Guardiola has arguably the most advanced player of all at such a young age. As another measure of his greatness, Haaland needed just 20 games to reach 25 goals under Guardiola – the fastest to do so, eight games short of Messi. Perhaps the scariest factor of all is how big Haaland could become under Pep when he becomes even more polished.

Haaland’s rise is not entirely limitless. His country’s lack of international success could become Haaland’s kryptonite in the GOAT debate. The world has just witnessed Messi’s World Cup triumph with Argentina perhaps cementing his place above Ronaldo, Pelé and Diego Maradona. But Norway, on the other hand, have qualified for just three of 22 FIFA World Cups – the last of which took place in 1998, before Haaland was even born – and have made it to just one of 16 UEFA European Championships. That said, if Haaland somehow manages to drag his nation through to the latter stages of a major tournament, it could be his greatest achievement – apart from the assault he currently leads in the Premier League record books.

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