The contrast couldn’t be more stark.
Cristiano Ronaldo sat sullenly on the sidelines as Erin Haaland plundered his latest hat-trick in a season threatening to break the Premier League’s scoring record.
This is confirmation of a guard pass. We’ve entered the Haaland era and the domination of Ronaldo and Messi is fading away.
He plays for Manchester City, arguably the most talented team in club football, while Kevin De Bruyne has a laser precision supplier.
Haaland scored three goals in Sunday’s 6-3 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United, taking him to 17 in 11 games in the league title – if the Community Shield is discounted 10 goals scored. This is the hallmark of his devastating threat.
With 14 goals in the league, he is expected to surpass the 23 goals of last season’s Golden Boot winners Mo Salah and Son Heung-min in just six games.
Brentford at the Etihad Stadium in November. 12 could be that moment. But given what Haaland has accomplished, it seems unlikely he will have to wait that long.
It all feels too easy for the 22-year-old Norwegian, who, at 1.93 meters (6 feet 4 inches) taller than most of his competitors, weighs 86 kilograms (189 pounds) and has the ability to shake off the outside world. attention. Any centre-back who can approach him.
That’s before taking into account his change in speed, his intimidating gait that keeps him away from opponents with just a few steps, and his dexterity in areas where he doesn’t have access to the ball. Just look at his “Kung Fu” goal against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last month.
It creates a corridor of possibilities unlike any striker in the game right now. Haaland is like playing a video game in cheat mode. If the ball is near him in the attacking third, the goal is threatened.
The record of 34 league goals set by Andy Cole in 1994 and Alan Shearer in 1995 seems inconceivable not to decline this season.
Ronaldo’s best goalscorer is 31, while Manchester City’s all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero has never scored more than 26.
Putting Haaland’s stats in context, Messi and Ronaldo are still the benchmarks.
Messi’s best season came when he scored an incredible 73 points in all competitions for Barcelona in 2011-12, including 50 in the Spanish league. Ronaldo scored 61 goals for Real Madrid in 2014-15, his most prolific season. The English top-flight record was 60 goals set by Everton’s Dixie Dean in 1928.
Haaland is threatening the numbers. In the league, he scored 66 goals in 38 games.
A big question mark hangs over his health. Various muscle problems forced him to miss Dortmund for an extended period, but there were no such concerns in the early stages of his Manchester City career.
Guardiola put it down to the way City’s medical department handled him.
“Last season, he couldn’t play a lot, he kept getting injured,” Guardiola said. “Here we have incredible physiotherapists. Thanks to them, he can play every 90 minutes.
“One of the most important departments is the doctors and physiotherapists who help, so thanks to them. Last season, Dortmund couldn’t do it, but we can.”
Expert concerns include city doctor Mario Pafundi on international duty with Haaland to maintain his daily life.
This was done with the blessing of Norway head coach Sol Bakken, who found himself dealing with a player who was about to become a global icon.
Members of the media following the national team spoke of increased security and the delay in announcing a press conference involving Haaland to avoid journalists becoming obsessed with the striker.
Haaland’s profile has only improved since his $63 million move to Manchester City, but he has always been a player built to be a star.
The “Haaland team” who have closely guided his career have charted their own path, from rejecting a move to Manchester United in 2019 to opting for Manchester City last summer despite Real Madrid’s interest.
His father, former Leeds United and City midfielder Alf Inge, oversees his son’s affairs.
Former Southampton striker Egil Oststad, who moved into banking at the end of his career, can offer financial advice. Coincidentally, Osttenstad also scored a hat-trick in the 6-3 win over Southampton in 1996.
Alf-Inge’s best man, Ivar Eggja, was also part of the team and accompanied the players to his city unveiling in the summer.
Attorney Rafaela Pimenta, who worked with the late super agent Mino Raiola, was also a key figure.
After sending him to Manchester City, where Guardiola hopes he will be the missing piece in the club’s quest for a first Champions League title, Haaland’s next job is to secure one of the biggest boot endorsements in football history.
His deal with Nike has expired, sparking a battle among the biggest sportswear makers to ensure they have a place at his feet.
Since joining Manchester City, he has been featured in different brands including Nike, Adidas and Puma.
The companies are desperate for Haaland, even though he won’t be at the biggest showcase, the World Cup.
Norway’s failure to qualify for Qatar means he will be resting while the world’s top players are set to play in a very crowded season due to the disruption to the club’s schedule.
Haaland’s mid-season break could mean he’ll be sharper when the Premier League resumes in December.
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