Erling Braut Håland is enjoying a memorable season so far. The Norwegian striker leads the Champions League scoring charts with seven goals, and has helped Red Bull Salzburg stay competitive in Group E, which includes Napoli and European champions Liverpool.
Salzburg were underdogs in UEFA Champions League betting odds before the campaign began, but they are in with an outside chance of qualification for the knockout stages. They currently sit in third place, four points behind second-place Napoli. The Austrian club’s strong showing is in large part due to the scoring exploits of 19-year-old Håland. Let’s take a closer look at the striker’s career so far.
Håland started out at his hometown club, Byrne FK, in Norway. After impressing in the youth ranks, he made his senior debut at the tender age of 15 in 2016. He went on to make 16 appearances for Byrne before earning a move to Molde, one of the top teams in the country.
Håland’s appearances were limited in his first season at Molde, but in his second campaign he received the ‘Eliteserien Breakthrough of the Year Award’ after scoring 16 goals in all competitions. This attracted the attention of Salzburg, who sealed the signing of Håland in August 2018 with the striker to join the club in the following January.
A Fine Campaign So Far
Although his first-team appearances for Salzburg were few in the second half of the 2018-19 season, Håland has been making up for lost time this season. He currently has a remarkable 26 goals from 18 appearances, averaging well over a goal per game.
This form has been evident in the Champions League. Håland bagged a hat-trick in Salzburg’s opening game against Genk and has scored in every Champions League match since. This has included strikes against Napoli and Liverpool.
His fine form for Salzburg earned Håland his senior debut for the Norwegian national team in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta in September. Norway ultimately missed out on qualification for the finals, but if Håland continues to develop then the 2022 World Cup could be a possibility.
Håland’s father is the former Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City player Alf-Inge Håland, who made over 200 appearances for the three English clubs between 1993 and 2003. He represented Norway on 34 occasions, including at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
He is perhaps best known for being on the receiving end of a Roy Keane lunge in April 2001. After that, he struggled to recover and was forced to retire in 2003. Keane wrote in his autobiography that he intended to hurt the Norwegian, but not to injure him.
While his father’s career was cut short, Håland will be hoping to go from strength to strength moving forward. He is still young and has a long way to go before he can count himself among Europe’s elite. The early signs are positive, and his goal-scoring record is second to none. Bigger clubs than Salzburg will circle around the striker if his form continues. It would be interesting to see how he performs in one of Europe’s biggest leagues.
Comparisons have been made between Håland and Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They do share similar qualities – tall, rangy strikers with an eye for goal and a natural finishing ability. Ibrahimovic was one of the best forwards of his generation, and Håland will hope to emulate his success. He is an exciting talent, and the future looks bright for the young Norwegian.