April 23, 2021

Man Utd

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CHRIS SUTTON: My scouting report on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland

4 min read

Erling Haaland has astonished audiences with his superb performances for Borussia Dortmund this season, with 33 goals in just 32 appearances in all competitions so far this season.

The 20-year-old striker is also top scorer in the Champions League by a long way with 10, and is one of the most sought after players in Europe, with Barcelona, Manchester United and future European opponents Manchester City all interested.

So without any further ado, here is my official scouting report on the 6’4′, 13st 12lb Norwegian star ahead of his potential audition for Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad on Tuesday.

Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland is making waves across Europe with his performances

Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland is making waves across Europe with his performances

SPEED – 9.5/10

Haaland is the 16th fastest player in the Bundesliga (they have a speed gun at every game!) with a top speed of 21.8mph. He has a sprinter’s stance and turbocharged turn of pace.

His goal in the 3-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach on the opening day was an excellent example. Using those long limbs, Haaland took nine seconds to go from box to box, then had the composure to lift the ball over the goalkeeper. 

Against Hertha Berlin, an opponent had five yards on him but he still got to the ball first — and scored. 

STRENGTH – 9/10

Haaland was skin and bones when he arrived at Molde in 2017 — 6ft and 11st 7lb. Now he’s 6ft 4in and 13st 12lb. 

He’s bulked up, making it more difficult for defenders to shake him off. That makes him the ideal target man, if needed. He doesn’t mind a battle for the ball. 

Haaland was much smaller and thinner at Norwegian side Molde but has bulked up since then

Haaland was much smaller and thinner at Norwegian side Molde but has bulked up since then

SKILL AND TECHNIQUE – 9.5/10

I am 6ft 4in — the same as Haaland — and at Norwich I remember my coaches making me do specific footwork drills to improve my coordination. 

Yet watching Haaland, he already has that balance. He isn’t a Cristiano Ronaldo step-over type, or overly flash. But Haaland has such a natural ability to stay on his feet and in control of the ball.

He did exactly that to open the scoring against Cologne last month, spinning his man before nutmegging the goalkeeper. It can be like watching a ballet dancer on a football field.

He is capable of the sublime, too. Need I remind you of that scissor-kick against Schalke? The ball was 5ft 7in off the ground but he turned his body horizontally to meet Jadon Sancho’s cross, acrobatically scoring in a 4-0 Dortmund win. What technique.

His taunting of Sevilla goalkeeper Bono showed the 20-year-old is not afraid of confrontation

His taunting of Sevilla goalkeeper Bono showed the 20-year-old is not afraid of confrontation

CONFIDENCE – 10/10

There is nothing wrong with a striker having confidence, or arrogance. You cannot become the best in the world without swagger — and Haaland certainly has self-belief!

In 2019, he scored nine goals for Norway in a 12-0 win over Honduras at the Under 20 World Cup. He never settles for one, two or even three. He always wants more. He has that competitive streak.

Haaland showed that when he ran straight at Sevilla goalkeeper Bono after scoring a penalty in the Champions League recently — and I loved that! It showed he doesn’t mind confrontation.

Haaland is all about gaining those extra percentages. He’s even said he wears ‘special glasses’ at night which help him enjoy a deeper sleep. This is a 20-year-old who wants to take on the world and believes he can. 

HEADING – 7.5/10

Only one of Haaland’s 21 league goals this season has come via his head but this doesn’t tell the full story. Dortmund aren’t a crossing club.

They’re towards the bottom of the Bundesliga rankings for that this season, so it isn’t as if Haaland is being peppered with aerial balls into the box and he isn’t connecting. At his height, and with a hell of a leap, he is a threat in the air. 

Columnist Chris Sutton worked on footwork at Norwich - but Haaland already has that balance

Columnist Chris Sutton worked on footwork at Norwich – but Haaland already has that balance

LEFT FOOT – 9.5/10

The money-maker. The reason Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola has been on a European tour, meeting Real, Barcelona, City, Chelsea… What I admire most about Haaland is the clarity in his finishing, no matter what situation he is in. 

He knows what finish is required and can execute it with ease. He can use his left foot as a hammer, or to produce a perfectly-timed chip over a keeper who’s closing him down. To have that range and speed of thought at his age is remarkable.

Haaland is incredibly clinical, boasting a shot conversion rate of 29.2 per cent in the Bundesliga. In the Champions League this season, that rises to a ridiculous 41.67 per cent — so City should be worried. Playing alongside Alan Shearer, it was the brutality of his finishing I found astonishing. Haaland has that knack. 

RIGHT FOOT – 7.5/10

Haaland has admitted he is working hard to improve his weaker right foot in training and he was particularly proud of a goal against Schalke in October.

He had the ball in midfield, played it to Jadon Sancho, then sprinted behind the opposition back line, as he so often does. Sancho passed it back into his path and Haaland coolly chipped goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow. 

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