Erling Braut Haaland: Will Borussia Dortmund striker fill Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoes?

BBC Sport profiles Norwegian striking sensation Erling Braut Haaland

Erling Braut Haaland simply cannot stop scoring.

It seems that not a week goes by that Haaland’s name doesn’t pop up for having hit the back of the net again, or broken another record.

I mean, just look at the 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker’s stats.

Haaland has made seven appearances for Norway and scored six goals – the first of those coming just two months ago.

He has made 13 appearances for Dortmund so far this season and has failed to score in just three of them – including a four-goal haul on Saturday – with 17 goals for his club already.

The youngster has scored in his past seven games in a row, while his latest double – against Club Bruges on Tuesday – saw him reach 15 (and then 16) Champions League goals in fewer games than any other player.

He has already scored more goals in the competition, 16, than Brazilian stars Ronaldo and Adriano did.

Last week, he won the Golden Boy award – given to the best player aged 21 or under from one of the top-tier European leagues. But will he go on to become the world’s very best?

Picking up from where he left off

Haaland has been fiercely driving to succeed since he was a child

It is probably no surprise that Haaland is once again scoring goals for fun after he hit an incredible 44 in 40 appearances for two different clubs last season.

Haaland joined Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg at the start of January and went on to win the Bundesliga player of the month despite playing just 59 minutes.

In the Champions League, a competition he loves so much that he listens to the anthem while driving in his car, Haaland became the first teenager to score 10 Champions League goals in a season.

Those goals came in just seven games, which made him the quickest player to reach double figures in Champions League history.

Does he need a move to really take off?

Erling Braut Haaland
Haaland has scored six goals in five games for Norway in 2020

Borussia Dortmund is, of course, a massive club but if Haaland keeps up his quite frankly ridiculous scoring antics then it is going to prove too tempting for teams with even greater financial clout not to try to prise him away.

Haaland is likely to be staying put for the next two years but reports suggest a buyout clause of 75m euros (£67m) will become activated in 2022 and that could prove a very tempting price if he is still banging in the goals.

Haaland is clearly a born winner. He possesses that same level of hunger seen in Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Sweden great Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is the Norwegian’s idol.

Dortmund have not won the Bundesliga for eight years and Haaland was not even born when they last lifted the Champions League trophy in 1997. So, if the wait for a major title goes on, a desire to be the very best could see him tempted by a move in a couple of years.

But where to? Manchester United were previously said to be interested but whether they can provide the chance to win league and European titles in the coming years remains to be seen.

Real Madrid are another club reported to be interestedexternal-link and it is also claimedexternal-link that is a move he would be keen on.

Then there is Leeds – the club Haaland has supported since he was a child because of his father, Alf-Inge, having played for them, but it is probably a bit of a stretch to be expecting the recently promoted Premier League side to be challenging for titles within a couple of years.

Let’s be honest, if he keeps up his current form, he will have his pick.

Messi and Ronaldo can’t go on forever

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Ronaldo and Messi may be in the twilight of their careers but both seem to be just as strong as ever right now

We’ve been spoiled over the past 15 or so years to have had two of the best players ever to have played football – 35-year-old Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, 33.

But the truth is that they cannot go on forever. Even Bayern Munich’s goal machine Robert Lewandowski is 32 years old now, so is Haaland the man to step up in their place once the legs do finally start to go?

His Norway coach, Lars Lagerback, certainly thinks so.

“I’ve maybe been around too long but I have never seen a guy since maybe Messi or Ronaldo that developed at such a young age,” he said after Haaland scored his first senior international goal in September.

“That’s very unique and he has all the possibilities to become a really world-class player. If you look at the offensive third of the pitch and in the box then he’s already absolutely top class.

“With the qualities he already has and his focused personality – if he can stay free from injury then he can be a really top-class player.”

What other exciting youngsters are there?

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe starred at the 2018 World Cup when he was just 19

There’s certainly plenty of exciting talent out there.

It already feels like he has been around a while but Kylian Mbappe is only 21 and looks destined for years at the very top.

The likes of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund are part of an exciting crop of English youngsters that could go far in the game.

Then there is Pedri at Barcelona. The 17-year-old attacking midfielder has been taken under his wing by Messi, who gives the teenager advice.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga has been capped three times by France, scoring one goal, and is said to have some of the world’s biggest clubs scrambling for his signature.

But as exciting as some of the upcoming group of youngsters are, few have quite made such a mark at such a young age as Haaland. If the goals keep flowing, Messi and Ronaldo’s numerous records could one day be under threat!

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