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Is Erling Halaand greater than Ronaldo, Messi at 22?

Signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer by Manchester City for £51million, Erling Haaland has hit the ground running at the Etihad Stadium. The Norway international…

Signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer by Manchester City for £51million, Erling Haaland has hit the ground running at the Etihad Stadium.

The Norway international has already scored 19 goals in just 12 matches across all competitions. His exploits under Guardiola have eventually led to his comparisons with football greats like Leonel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.

The giant 22-year-old has 14 goals in just eight Premier League matches and has surpassed many long-standing records within a short time.

Already this season, Haaland has rewritten the record books in a City shirt. He has eclipsed club legend, Sergio Aguero, by scoring in nine successive games – Aguero only managed eight straight games on two occasions.

Haaland reached 10 Premier League goals in the quickest-ever time (six games) and is the first player to score in his first four Premier League away games.

In addition to that, his three hat tricks so far make him the fastest player ever to do the feat in Premier League history. Michael Owen had held the record, but it took him 48 games.

Haaland’s stats after a century of games in Europe’s major leagues leave the like of Kylian Mbappe, Ronaldo and Messi miles behind.

He has netted 103 goals in 100 league games across his spells at Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.

That’s more than double Mbappe’s 48 strikes in his first 100 Ligue 1 games.

While two of the all-time greats in Messi and Ronaldo are even further behind. The Argentine netted 41 times in his first 100 La Liga games for Barcelona, while Ronaldo could only muster 16 strikes in his first century of games in Europe’s major leagues.

Luis Suarez’s 59 goals in his first 100 European games are very impressive, but are nowhere near Haaland’s startling record in this regard.

Premier League goal king
Harry Kane netted 45 times in his first 100 Premier League games, but surprisingly, Shearer only managed 20 in the same period before going on to bag a remarkable 260 goals in 441 Premier league appearances overall.

Haaland is on track to beat the Premier League’s goal-scoring record for a single season by January.

The records of 34 goals by Andy Cole (Newcastle, 1994) and Alan Shearer (Blackburn, 1995) in a 42-game English league season and 32 by Mo Salah (Liverpool, 2018) in a 38-game season appear to be in jeopardy.

Even Dixie Dean’s (Everton, 1928) record of 60 may falter. He could also beat Messi’s 82 goals in the whole of 2011/12 and Ronaldo’s 17 in the 2013/14 Champions League at the current rate (a goal every 1.6 games).

Haaland at 22
Generation-defining records are under threat from Haaland who, at 22, has amassed an enormous goal tally.

At his age, neither Ronaldo nor Messi came close to the 154 goals in 194 games the Norwegian has scored for Bryne, Molde, RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, according to Transfermarkt. His average is 0.8 per game.

Excluding his performances in the youth teams, Messi had scored 80 goals in 162 games (0.5 on average) for Barcelona at the age of 22 years and two and a half months.

In 2008/09, in which he won everything under Guardiola, the Argentine broke into the goalscoring charts (38 goals) although until then his ceiling was 17 in 2006/07.

Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund
Erling Haaland at Borussia Dortmund

Haaland’s scoring rate is more consistent (44 in 2019/20 between RB Salzburg and Dortmund, 41 in 2020/21 and 29 in 2021/22 with BVB and, so far, 19 with City).

Cristiano Ronaldo, who had already made the leap from Sporting CP to Manchester United, had 53 goals in 214 games (0.25 average) at Haaland’s current age.

Haaland in the Champions League
It is in the Champions League that Haaland made his mark. With RB Salzburg, he entered the tournament with a bang (eight goals in five games) and in his fourth season in the top continental competition, he has continued to make his mark.

With 28 goals in 22 matches in the competition, Haaland has already scored more goals in the Champions League than legends such as Rivaldo and Luis Suarez in their entire careers (27). And his goals-per-game average (1.27) is higher than that of 98 teams who have taken part in the competition.

He also wins the comparisons with Ronaldo and Messi in their early reins at Champions League. In their first 28 matches, Ronaldo (the all-time Champions League top scorer with 140 goals) scored three goals while Messi (second in the ranking with 127) scored 14.

Even Mbappe, his great rival for the football throne in the next decade, is behind in his first 28 Champions League games (17 goals). The PSG star, at 22, had 131 goals in 202, a record behind Halaand’s.

Though, Haaland’s manager, Pep Guardiola, claimed there would be no one like Messi, statistics on the ground have shown that the former Borussia Dortmund hitman is miles ahead of others as of the time they were his age.

Guardiola, however, agreed that: “The figures speak for themselves. They’re scary, to be honest. What he is doing he did before in Norway, Austria and in Germany. It’s not something I taught him. The quality we have helps him score. He has an unbelievable instinct. He was born to score goals.”

One can only imagine what the Norwegian striker would have achieved in the next five years if he continues hitting the target at the current rate.

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