Recently, Pep Guardiola likened his striker Erling Haaland to a machine and compared him to Cristiano Ronaldo. Guardiola also chose Lionel Messi as the most complete footballer in the same interview.
Is it fair to call him a ‘machine?’
Despite Haaland’s ruthless efficiency and physical prowess, it is probably not fair to call him a machine. The Norway international usually has enough finesse and control in and around the opposition penalty box to stake claims for being dubbed a skillful player.
One might refer to the assists he got against Manchester United in October by setting up Phil Foden or the brilliant cross that travelled the width of the box before reaching Bernardo Silva for the latter to score against Bayern Munich.
Those pieces of play illustrate Haaland’s shrewd game-sense and consummate ball-skills, which are the hallmarks of any quality offensive player.
Haaland’s passing and crossing in tight spaces is quite exemplary. While his size allows him to overpower opposition defenders and often out-jump them to score with headers, his ball-skills are not what one typically gets from a ‘machine.’
Haaland has thus far presented himself to be a rare combination of finesse and power. One gets the feeling that Guardiola will have many more opportunities to talk about his star striker in the future, too. All the defenders in the world (apart from Man City’s) will continue to have nightmares and dread coming up against the Norwegian.