This season, I’m sure you’ve been hearing tales of a young Norwegian man smashing goals in for fun over in Austria for Red Bull Salzburg. In case you didn’t know, his name is Erling Braut Håland – he is the son of former Manchester City, Leeds and Nottingham Forest defender Alf-Inge Håland – and he is fantastic.
The man himself
Born in Leeds, Håland is a die-hard Leeds United fan and once told a newspaper his ultimate dream is “to win the Premier League with Leeds.” It’s a big dream, but if the Yorkshire club can one day somehow secure the services of this impressive young man, it becomes significantly more likely.
As mentioned above, he currently plays for Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga – and although some may scoff at the low level of competition, he’s already proved he can hang with the best. For example, just a month back, he came off the bench (didn’t start as he was carrying an injury) away at Anfield as his side looked to find an equaliser against European champions Liverpool. Predictably, it didn’t take him very long to score at all as he put his side back on level terms. Unfortunately for him, they would go on to lose that game but he certainly didn’t do himself any disservice.
Before RB Salzburg, he played for his club Bryne FK, the main club in the Norwegian town he moved to with his family at the age of just three. He spent just a couple of years there and only ever played 16 games during his time at the club. During his spell there, Håland took part in an unsuccessful trial for Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim.
In 2017, Håland was signed by Molde FK, one of the most successful sides in Norwegian football. At the time of his arrival, current Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was in charge of the Norwegian outfit. It was a good fit from the outset for Håland, as the youngster bagged on his debut. He’d go on to score 20 goals in 50 appearances, securing himself a move to RB Salzburg in the process.
The lad just simply can’t get enough of football – and more importantly, he can’t get enough of scoring goals. This season, in his debut season in both the UEFA Champions League and Austrian Bundesliga, he boasts an incredible 26 goals in 18 appearances across all competitions – that includes an ridiculous FIVE hat-tricks too.
This week, he told media “I like to sleep with the five balls I scored hat-tricks with. I look at them every day. They are my girlfriends.” As well as that, he also spoke of his love for the Champions League, saying “The Champions League theme tune is my alarm tone. I wake up to it every day – it’s the last song I’ll ever get tired of.”
Standing at 6’4″ tall, Håland is very tall and has a very significant aerial presence – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any pace though. During his game against Wolfsberg (no not that one, this one) at the weekend, the 19-year-old scored his fifth and latest hat-trick of the season. On the third goal, he demonstrated that despite his height, he’s certainly no slouch, covering the length of the field in less than ten seconds.
Despite his raw power and pace typifying the modern day forward, from an asthetical standpoint, he’s very much a throwback to the old school centre-forward. However, the second he takes possession of the ball, he proves that assessment is nothing but codswallop. Utilising his pace and power, Håland is very aggressive in possession of the football as he speeds past his marker, leaving them in his wake.
He is equally as aggressive off the ball too, with one of his constant pressing being one his standout attributes. Considering his age, he’s a very mature and intelligent player, knowing when to press, when to sit back and how to effectively cut the passing lanes. He is without a shadow of a doubt the ultimate defender’s nightmare – and not only when he has the ball.
The most notable person I could compare him to is probably Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Their playing style, build and attitude towards football are very much in line with one another. There ain’t much higher praise I can give a young striker than comparing them to the Lion…
What does the future hold?
Well, his RB Salzburg career is still very much in its infancy but to be honest, I don’t see it maturing a whole lot further. He’s already attracting attention from some of the biggest football clubs in Europe with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona being heavily linked with the youngster.
Reports suggest Barcelona have been put off by the price-tag Håland’s club have placed on his head, with RB Salzburg reportedly quoting interested parties upwards of €100m. To be honest, I really don’t think that figure is as absurd as many would – in today’s market, for a player of this calibre with potential as high as his, it’s well worth it.
One thing I do hope is that Håland uses his brain and leans on his family, particularly his Father, for support during this whirlwind period of his career. The last thing you want is him deciding to make his big money move too early in his career – the timing of any transfer is just as important as the destination for a young player like him.
Whether it’s Barca, Man United or even Leeds United – I’m sure Håland will do smash it wherever he ends up. Personally, I hope he ends up in the Premier League – just not with Manchester United…