Is Erling Haaland’s 50-goal haul a surprise? Man City star Kyle Walker admits he got assessment of prolific striker wrong
- Stunning debut campaign from forward
- Has matched Premier League record
- Chasing down treble & Ballon d'Or
WHAT HAPPENED? Everybody at the Etihad Stadium knew that they were acquiring a special talent when a £51 million ($64m) transfer deal with Borussia Dortmund was pushed through in the summer of 2022. Haaland has, however, exceeded expectations during his debut campaign in England – with a half-century of strikes including 34 in the Premier League that have seen him match the all-time single season record previously posted by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole when there were 42 top-flight games to take in.
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WHAT THEY SAID: City defender Walker has said of how Haaland’s efforts have compared to what was expected of him when he arrived: “I could see his quality when we played against him in the Champions League. But did I feel he could hit the ground running and get the goals he's done? Of course not. To come to a new league and a new team it’s always going to be difficult. That shows the level of the player, the maturity of the young boy at 22. Long may it continue. It’s extraordinary what he’s done. I’ve had the privilege to play with him and Harry Kane now who, for me, are up there with the best out-and-out number nines. The goals they both score are tremendous. Erling has taken it to a new level now. He’s set the bar, he’s only young and he needs to keep doing this season in, season out, to hopefully keep on breaking more records and keeping the form he is in.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Haaland’s stunning haul for City includes six hat-tricks, with the history books being rewritten by the 22-year-old as he threatens to challenge World Cup winner Lionel Messi for Ballon d’Or honours in 2023.
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WHAT NEXT? Haaland will become a leading contender for the most prestigious of Golden Balls if he is able to inspire City to treble glory this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side still in the hunt for Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League crowns.