There is something otherworldly about Erling Haaland. It is as if the Manchester City striker has been constructed in the laboratory, an amalgam of all the qualities required to be the most ruthless of finishers. Big, muscular, quick, sharp, intelligent, skilled: it is hard to think of anyone else who has had such a combination of attributes.
Just to witness Haaland in action is to appreciate that he is special. But if you need further evidence of his level of difference, it is writ large in the speed he has set about demolishing records. Here are just six that chart his singularity.
After scoring 14 goals and claiming three assists in eight Premier League games (not to mention a further three goals in two Champions League matches) he is already, at the start of October, just nine goals away from matching the total of 23 achieved by Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min that won last season’s Premier League Golden Boot. And there are 30 league games remaining.
Following his demolition of Man United, the notoriously stingy French newspaper ‘L’Equipe’ awarded Haaland 10 out of 10 in its player ratings. Thus, he became only the 13th player to achieve the perfect 10 since the system was introduced in 1985.
Six games into his City career, Haaland matched the achievement of Micky Quinn at Coventry City, which had stood for 30 years, as the fastest to 10 goals in his debut season. After that breakneck start to secure his record in 1992-’93, however, Quinn’s productivity somewhat dwindled: he scored a further seven goals that season.
Haaland is showing no signs of slowing down. Particularly as, unlike almost all of his rivals among Premier League strikers, the Norwegian will benefit from a month-long rest during December when they are all engaged in the World Cup.
What is remarkable about Haaland’s record-breaking is that he is not simply bettering previous records, he is splattering them. Given that he is scoring at a rate of one goal every 53.8 minutes, it is perhaps no surprise that he now tops the table of the fewest touches per goal since the Premier League began. But it is the scale of his rewriting of football history that is so notable. Haaland scores every 14 touches. The second-most prolific, Jamie Vardy, takes 50.
His speed off the mark is evident, too, in the table of the fastest to record three hat-tricks for their clubs in the Premier League. It is not as if the others in the table were slouches. After Haaland (eight games) come Michael Owen (48), Ruud van Nistelrooy (59), Fernando Torres (64) and Andy Cole (65).
But if you want a comparison with the true greats, the most pertinent is in goals scored by age 22. Haaland is on top with 170, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (50) and Lionel Messi (44).
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