Alan Shearer airlines launched this month to fly Harry Kane to Germany and ferry the former Newcastle striker's Premier League goalscoring record to safety. Kane was just 47 strikes away from taking Shearer's long-running record, which stands at 260, but the England captain is now contracted to Bayern Munich until 2027, when he will be 34, his best days likely to be behind him.
With the biggest threat to his record now looking to make his mark in the Bundesliga, Shearer's status as the leading marksman in Premier League history looks assured. He can retire early as a pilot and put his feet up. Or can he?
Kane may be gone but there is another lethal goalscorer on the prowl ready to give Shearer fresh nightmares. After sending all sorts of records tumbling in his sensational first season in the Premier League, Erling Haaland has already made a flying start to his second campaign.
Shearer will need to keep his pilot's uniform in a safe place and start mapping out new potential destinations. The Manchester City striker is hungry and coming for that record.
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One record down already
Shearer has already had to endure Haaland stripping him of one major record. He was the last person to have scored 34 goals in a Premier League season, firing Blackburn Rovers to the title in 1994-95, five years before Haaland was born.
Shearer shared that record with Andy Cole and must have thought it was safe when the Premier League reduced the number of teams from 22 to 20, cutting the number of games per season from 42 to 38. Still, Mohamed Salah came close, scoring 32 times in the 2017-18 campaign.
Shearer knew, however, that Haaland was going to break that record when he interviewed the Norwegian in February, when he was already on 25 goals. "I know about a couple of your records," said the City striker with a smile.
Three months later, against West Ham, Haaland duly broke Shearer and Cole's record by scoring goal number 35. But what about the other record?
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More than a goal per game
Even after his jaw-dropping start to life in England, Haaland does still have a long way to go to catch Shearer due to the former striker's longevity. Haaland has 38 goals compared to Shearer's 260. The fact he has a deficit of 222 goals to make up might make him seem like not much of a threat.
But his goals-per-game rate tells a different story. Shearer amassed his tally in 441 appearances, averaging 0.59 goals per game. Haaland has only played 36 Premier League games, giving him a rate of 1.06 goals per game.
At his current rate, Haaland needs to play just five and a half more seasons to catch Shearer. So, if he can maintain his current performance levels and avoid major injuries, he could take Shearer's record off his hands midway through the 2028-29 season.
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No sign of slowing down
Haaland quickly settled any questions about struggling to live up to his first season by opening his account for the new campaign in less than four minutes against Burnley.
The Norwegian fired City into the lead with his first touch of the ball, volleying home Rodri's cushioned header. His second goal was another lethal one-touch finish, slamming Julian Alvarez's lay off in off the crossbar.
Haaland was hungry for a third goal and was livid with Bernardo Silva for not playing him in before half-time, leading to a telling off from Pep Guardiola, who backed the Portuguese for not risking surrendering possession.
How many other players would rage at team-mates when they had already scored twice in a first half? The incident was played down by Guardiola but it underlined Haaland's insatiable hunger for goals. And that's bad news for Shearer.
Gets better with every season
Many pundits thought that, as good as Haaland was, he would need some time to adapt to the demands of the Premier League and his goalscoring rate would drop off. In a stunning response to those doubters, Haaland instead scored more goals in his debut season in England than he had in any of his previous campaigns in Norway, Austria or Germany.
The simple explanation is that Haaland just gets better with each season. In his first year in Norway's top flight with Molde, aged 16, he scored two goals. The following year he struck 12. In just one half of the 2019-20 season with RB Salzburg he scored 28 goals in all competitions.
He added a further 16 in the second half of the campaign with Borussia Dortmund. In his first full campaign with Dortmund he plundered 41 goals. The Norwegian slowed down a bit the following season, which was disrupted by several muscle injuries, but still managed 30 goals in 30 games.
And with City, playing in arguably the best league in the world, he scored 52 goals in 53 games. Based on how his career has gone so far, we should be expecting Haaland to improve on that unbelievable tally this season. That means he could get to Shearer's record even quicker.
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'Haaland has all the attributes'
Shearer is well aware of Haaland's desire to keep on improving and believes he still has not reached his ceiling and will continue to get better.
"He’s only 22 and still learning, and he’s got a lot to learn still, and when he does that's the scary thing of what he will then be able to achieve, because he is only going to get better," Shearer wrote in a foreword to the book Greatest Goalscorers.
"If you are going to build the perfect centre-forward, then you would build one who is quick, build one who is good in the air, build one with a very good first touch, build one with movement and one who can use their left or right feet, and Haaland has all of these attributes."
Haaland also has the added bonus of working under probably the best coach in the world in Guardiola and with a serial winning team.
"But he is not the finished article, and you would be mad to think that, because he is still learning at his age, still going to get better," Shearer added. "So a great coach, world-class players and such a success rate is going to guarantee him goals."
An improving injury record
The only thing holding Haaland back from making more Premier League history is the threat of injuries. He was troubled by a series of muscle problems in his last season with Dortmund, forcing him to miss 95 days and 20 matches for club and country.
City were well aware of his previous issues and have taken special measures to keep him as injury-free as possible. Their methods seemed to have worked as he had just two fitness problems last season, a bruised foot and a groin strain. He missed only three games for City and two for Norway.
Haaland also pays careful attention to his body. He has massages after every game and takes care of the small details, ensuring he gets as much sleep possible by wearing special glasses and turning off all technological devices long before turning out the lights.
He also has an infamous diet, with Norway team-mate Joshua King declaring that he "eats like a bear". City are happy to indulge his tastes too, flying premium salmon in from Norway at Haaland's request.
Although he is still at risk to freak injuries and bad luck, Haaland is doing everything to ensure he gets injured as little as possible. And that's more bad news for Shearer, who was out of action for a total of 473 days across his 14 seasons in the Premier League due to three serious knee injuries.
No incentive for him to leave
Assuming he can stay relatively injury free and does not suffer from any crises of confidence or City's form badly dropping off, then Haaland is a serious threat to Shearer's record. And the only hope in Shearer preserving his record lies in Haaland getting itchy feet and moving away from the Premier League, just as Kane has done.
Haaland has never stayed at a club for more than three years and he is good enough to play wherever he wants. He seriously considered moving to Real Madrid before joining City in the summer of 2022 and will surely want to revisit that option at some point.
There was always the threat of Madrid poaching him from City due to a £150 million release clause, which became active in June 2024, which was inserted into his contract. However, that clause was related to Guardiola's future and vanished when the Catalan renewed his contract with City until 2025.
Haaland's current contract runs until 2027 but after firing City to the treble he has plenty of leverage should he want an improved deal and, according to reports, the club are willing to grant him one.
City are likely to want to extend that contract by at least a year or two in return to lower the chance of Madrid or any other club snatching him away. As long as Haaland is under contract, there is no incentive for City to let him leave.
Pray for Shearer
No one expects Haaland to stay at City until he retires but at the moment there is nothing pulling him away from the club. While Kane finally felt the urge to leave Tottenham in the pursuit of trophies, City can practically guarantee him silverware. Guardiola's side won a fourth gong of 2023 by lifting the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.
And very few clubs could give him the all-star supporting cast he currently has to help him further swell his already remarkable goal tally. Haaland also has personal ties to City as his father Alfie played for them and he was pictured wearing the club's shirt as a toddler. As a northern European, he is also happier in Manchester than some of his southern European team-mates.
Having recently turned 23, there is every chance of Haaland remaining at City until he is 28 or 29, by which time he could be the Premier League's greatest ever goalscorer. To paraphrase Gary Lineker, our thoughts are with Alan Shearer at this difficult time.