The “machine” that is Erling Haaland

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.

The world usually listens when Guardiola speaks about anything football-related. The 52-year-old Spanish manager must be proud of his new protege who is about to smash all goal-scoring records in English football in his debut season.
Astounding goal-scoring record
At the tender young age of 22, the hulking Haaland has more than 150 goals in top-flight football. He scored 86 goals in 89 matches for Borussia Dortmund before joining Manchester City.
For the Citizens, he has already scored 47 goals in 40 matches and could very well finish the season with a tally close to 55 goals in all competitions. He is also one of the main reasons why Manchester City are traversing the tough schedule of April with ease.
Those numbers are mind-boggling by any standards and put Haaland among the game’s elites undoubtedly. Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were as prolific as Haaland at his age.
However, one must remember that neither of them started off as a pure striker or a centre-forward either. Not since the mid-1990s, when Brazil’s Ronaldo burst into the scene with his phenomenal abilities, has any striker captured the imagination of football-lovers all over the world like this.
One shudders to think about the plight of the opposition defenders when Haaland attains physical maturity. Should he be able to have an injury-free careers – which the Brazilian Ronaldo could not – he should break all goal-scoring records in European club football at the very least.

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.

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