Champions League

Expert view – The teenager who Solskjaer believes can be better than he was

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Erling Braut Haaland

Image credit: Getty Images

29/12/2019 at 13:51 | Updated 29/12/2019 at 14:51

Erling Braut Haaland has signed for Borussia Dortmund but back in September, we spoke to our colleagues in Norway to get all the information on the RB Salzburg star.

Haaland, 19, the son of former Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Manchester City player Alf-Inge scored a hat-trick in his first Champions League outing as RB Salzburg beat Genk 6-2 and has continued to shine ever since.

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In doing so he became the first teenager to score a hat-trick on their Champions League debut since Wayne Rooney against Fenerbahce in 2004.

Haaland has certainly announced himself following a period of growing hype for the striker in the past couple of seasons.

In order to find out we consulted with our colleagues in Norway who watched him play first-hand before his transfer to Austria.

The journey under Ole

“[Ole Gunnar] Solskjær bought Haaland to Molde [from Bryne] in the winter of 2017.” Eurosport Norway’s Stian Thelen says.

“Haaland has been a great talent and has a lot of games on Norway’s Youth National Teams.

“He got his debut in the summer [of 2018] for Molde and was more like a sub before he was regular in the Molde team from the 2018 season.

“He had an impressive season with Red Bull Salzburg buying him for £6 million and an additional £4 million in add-ons, a source told us in Eurosport Norway.”

Erling Braut Haaland

Image credit: Eurosport

Our colleagues actually got the opportunity to ask Solskjaer about Haaland when he was the manager of Molde.

“He has speed, strength, a fantastic mentality, energy and a willingness to train, so he can be a very good player,” Solskjaer said.

“Can he be better than you?” was the next question.

“Obviously, you should have seen me when I was 17.” Solskjaer said.

One fascinating point from last night came after the game when Haaland was asked by Jan Aage Fjortoft about his performance off the bench.

Haaland replied "I knew I was coming on in the 2nd half, so I spent my time studying [the space] in which to make an impact, and it worked out well.

"My father (Alf-Inge Håland) managed to score here at Anfield, so I had to match that."

If that sounds familiar then that is because it is incredibly similar to his old manager Solskjaer.

Solskjaer and his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson have regularly spoken about how the forward would intensely watch the game when he was on the bench, that allowed him to be so ruthless as a substitute.

The next steps

So what does the future hold for Haaland?

It’s always hard to tell when a player is within the Red Bull family and there’s a chance that he might just move to Germany to play for Leipzig for a year or two - which is a familiar path.

However, Thelen isn’t ruling out a reunion with his old manager.

Erling Haaland of Salzburg celebrates the victory after the UEFA Champions League match between RB Salzburg and KRC Genk at Red Bull Arena on September 17, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria

Image credit: Getty Images

"In my opinion i think Manchester United is likely to happen as long as Solskjaer is manager of Manchester United.

"I think they are the favourites to sign him. Solskjaer was Haaland's coach in Molde, and gave him a lot of playing time and his breakthrough in Norwegian football that led to Salzburg-deal.

"The question is which role they are offering him in United and if that suites Haaland. He wants to play of course.

"If Manchester United is not happening, I believe a German team could be suitable for him. Dortmund or RB Leipzig for example and that would be a good next step for him."

Sondre Michael Skandsen added "The famous agent Jim Solbakken has tight relations to both Haaland and especially Solskjær.

"Ole's visit to Salzburg last week goes to show that there is clear interest for him."

As Thelen mentioned our colleagues at Eurosport Norway have reported that not only United but Juventus also watched him during his time in Norway.

Thelen jokes that “in my opinion he could be the next John Carew – but also with shooting skills,” but right now it seems as if the sky is the limit for this young man.

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