“The path he has taken is extraordinary.”
Those are the words of new Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose after his first Bundesliga game in charge of the club, which was a comprehensive 5-2 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. Club captain and legend Marco Reus scored his 100th goal for the club whilst Gregor Kobel gave a great account of himself on debut and demonstrated he can be the long-term option between the sticks.
But the star of the show, as it so often is, was Erling Haaland. The Norwegian superstar opened his account for the season with two goals and gave a further reminder of how well-rounded his game is with two more assists. That performance is what led to the praise from Rose who added he has “developed outstandingly” and is an “incredible team player.”
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Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund

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Rose will get a full season of Haaland but that’s probably all, with the famed €75 million release clause coming into effect in the summer of 2022. Haaland will be 22 and if he continues on this trajectory he will probably command a wage comparable to some of the best players in the world. In many respects, this is a one-year audition for Haaland to drive up his new salary as much as possible.
In order to get a clearer picture of Haaland's situation we got in contact with Eurosport Germany's Marc Hlusiak. The first question we wanted to ask was why would Dortmund allow themselves to miss out on €50-100 million?
"Because Haaland is probably worth even more this season,” Hlusiak replied.
Without Haaland, BVB would probably have missed the Champions League last season and thus around 40 million euros.
“Without Haaland, the quarter-finals in the Champions League and the German Cup victory would certainly not have been possible.
“Remember when Dortmund refused a transfer for Lewandowski in summer 2013 and let him go to Bayern for free one year later? Lewandowski scored 28 goals in all competitions and thus helped Dortmund into the cup final, the quarter-finals of the Champions League and second place in the league.”
Okay that makes sense, it also gives them an extra year to scout a replacement, it certainly won’t all be on the shoulders of Giovanni Reyna, Youssoufa Moukoko or new signing Donyell Malen (more on him later). In England there is a perception that he is still quite raw and he can be selfish. It’s led to some to react to the opening weekend as a sign Haaland is going to the next level, but Hlusiak isn’t too sure.
“In Germany, Haaland is not criticised for playing too selfishly. In Dortmund it is usually the better option to shoot on goal if you are Erling Haaland,” explains Hlusiak.
“Haaland is an intelligent player and, if necessary, often sees the better-positioned team-mate. But this is not necessary too often because he himself is usually in the optimal position. There are enough examples from the past where Haaland foregoes a goal in order to put one on for his team-mate. That is Haaland too, and they know that in Dortmund.”
Hlusiak points to one of the first games of last season when Haaland, on a hat-trick against Freiburg, decided to set-up Felix Passlack for his first Bundesliga goal.
As far as Hlusiak is concerned if Haaland is going to develop a side of his game it’s either aerially, or playing with his back to goal, although he’s still pretty good at both of those for his age. With Jadon Sancho having moved to Manchester United Haaland won’t have his supply and he may have to create more himself. Although having said that it’s not as if he’s short on creative players in his team.

Marco Rose mit seinem Stürmer-Star Erling Haaland

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Here’s what Rose said in his press conference on Monday ahead of the German Supercup.
"Erling wants to be a complete player and he is making noticeable progress. He is still young and has so much development potential. He knows that too. Just imagine, he makes the most of it ... What kind of footballer he will be!"
He also may have a strike partner at some stage. New signing Malen is expected to feature alongside Haaland when he’s fit and Hlusiak thinks he may even work with Moukoko to give the Norwegian a rest.
“Yes, Malen and Haaland will certainly play together now and again. Rose loves a nice 4-4-2 - in Gladbach he had Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram, two perfect players for this system. It's pretty certain that Rose will test it when Malen is 100 percent integrated and fit. And Haaland will certainly get a break here and there when Malen storms with Moukoko.”

Donyell Malen (left) and Marco Rose - Borussia Dortmund

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The experienced Reus, who has seen young stars come and ago, was wary of over-praising Haaland, but even he had to admit the forward is already pretty complete.
"We always have to be careful not to praise him too much. Only because there are still some things he needs to improve. He can score super goals, play from deep, his speed, his assertiveness – he’s a package, you have to say. We need him of course. We need him healthy, he can do what he wants, he gets a free pass. But we hope that he will stay healthy and that he will consistently put on special performances like today.”
Even though he has a couple of things to tidy up he is already considered in the elite group of world strikers (along with Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) and he’s only going to get better. The sounds coming out of Dortmund suggest he works hard and is a good trainer with a great attitude.
Ironically then perhaps this is not a one-year audition for Haaland. Perhaps it is a one-year audition for the biggest clubs in the world to convince Haaland that they are where his next step should be. So far he has made the right decision every step of the way, who would bet against him doing so again next summer?
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