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Haaland's sudden rise to the big stage

Martin Tilrem
Published Nov 30, 2019
Nov 30, 2019 IST

SSC Napoli v RB Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League
SSC Napoli v RB Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League

Before Erling Braut Haalands 2019-move to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, you'd probably have to be very interested in Norwegian football to have noticed his name. On the international stage, it might seem as though he came out of nothing. But before his record-breaking first start in the Champions League, Haaland, much like his countryman Ødegaard, tore the Norwegian league apart.

It is the first of July 2018. Erling Braut Haaland, 17 years of age at the time, is on the cover of every Norwegian online newspaper. He's just scored four goals against Norwegian side Brann, all before the half-time whistle. He'd scored a hattrick before the fifteenth minute. All of it with now Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær as his manager in Molde, and with Manchester United scouts on the sidelines.

In the winter transfer window, Haaland's then-club Molde had rejected a bid from Italian giants Juventus. At the same time, there had been reports that multiple German Bundesliga clubs were interested in the young Norwegian.

Since his move to Molde from the second division club Bryne in 2017, Haaland played 39 matches for the Norwegian top-flight, delivering 14 goals and five assists. 12 of those goals came in his final 2018 season in the Eliteserien.

Fast forward two months and Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg signs the then 18-year old on a 4-year-deal, a move that turned official on the first of January this year.

Almost five months later, Haaland bags 9(!) goals against Honduras for Norway in the U20-World Cup. The Norwegian side won with 12 goals and the overran Honduras to the point where FIFA investigated Honduras for match-fixing, though no signs of it were discovered.

There's no doubt that Erling Braut Haaland's breakout season is going on right now. The 19-year-old Norwegian international has netted 15 goals and assisted six in only 12 matches in the Austrian Bundesliga. In 5 Champions League matches, he's scored 8 goals, scored a hattrick in his first CL match, and is second only to Robert Lewandowski on the Champions League top scorer list.

SSC Napoli v RB Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League
SSC Napoli v RB Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League

Yet through ruthless destruction of Norwegian defenses in Eliteserien before his move to Salzburg, and his 9-goal match against Honduras, it should be made clear that Haaland the phenomenon did not, come out of nothing. Transfermarkt currently values the Norwegian at $30 million, but when the inevitable moves come, chances are the fee will be much higher.

Also check out: Champions League Schedule Champions League table Champions league top scorers

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