Erling Braut Haaland: Is Red Bull Salzburg striker really ‘the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic’?

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From Gary Rose
BBC Sport
The Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
That was the question one newspaper after Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland declared himself in Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 triumph over Genk in the Champions League having a debut hat-trick asked in September.
Perhaps Ibrahimovic would not agree – there is just one Zlatan – however, it’s an comparison.
Both well over 6ft tall, the two Scandinavians, possess an unwavering confidence in their own ability. Both have a reputation as goalscorers.
But while Ibrahimovic is currently nearing the end of his soccer career, Haaland that is 19-year-old is just beginning. He’s scored 17 goals in 10 club games, including four hat-tricks, also will seem to add to this tally to get Salzburg from Liverpool on Wednesday (20:00 BST).
Born in Leeds, and angry about Leeds United, Haaland grew up enjoying the game that was British. A opportunity to test himself will be quite a moment.
Why Leeds? Due to his dad.
Alf-Inge Haaland has been a midfielder in Elland Road between 2000 and 1997, assisting them attain a Uefa Cup semi-final and finish third in the Premier League.
Erling was born in the city in 2000 but proceeded to Bryne in Norway with his family when he was , after his father’s retirement.
For someone who was a fan of English soccer, it was perhaps the movement for Erling.
“That part of Norway gets really a lot of rain,” says Kenneth journalist Nils Henrik Smith, who grew up in Bryne and has been educated PE by Alf-Inge.
“But across the time that the Haalands transferred there, the neighborhood soccer team built a new indoor hall, so it made it easier for children to play soccer all year round.”
Erling’s potential in the young age was clear and, a growth spurt in his teens supposed he was fast-tracked through the club’s youth teams, frequently playing alongside team-mates per couple of years older, after connecting Bryne.
A change of management led to the youth-team boss of the club shooting through the first group, and he gave Erling his debut.
“I had been there due to his starting debut,” continued Henrik Smith. “He was quick and had a good turn of pace; he left smart runs.
“He was but gangly at the stage. He did not have the muscle he’s – but you might see that there was raw talent there.”
Someone else who noticed raw talent was Gunnar Solskjaer.
If they proceeded to signal Haaland in January 2017 the Manchester United boss was in control of Molde. In the months that followedthey got to work on developing the player into the attacker.
Gym sessions helped while Solskjaer, who scored 167 aims in 420 games utilized his expertise to fine-tune his protege’s finishing Haaland build muscle mass to bulk out his enormous frame.
The results were instant.
Haaland, nicknamed”Manchild” by his fresh Molde team-mates due to his size and age, was the focus of a platform that satisfied his style and also scored 12 goals in 25 appearances for the club – including four in a catastrophic 20-minute spell against team leaders Brann.
“His dad is a great friend of mine, so we knew about him for a long time,” former Norway striker Jan Age Fjortoft advised BBC World Service.
“Then we watched him when he arrived to Molde under Solskjaer and believed that this was a man who could go far. This is really a man desperate. Secondly, he has that speed and durability. He is so obvious in what he needs.”
One day before his side’s 6-2 win over Genk from the Champions League, Red Bull Salzburg captain Andreas Ulmer was out walking his dog when he heard a sound.
“Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes equipes! The winners!”
It had been, for those unfamiliar with its legends, the Champions League anthem, being hammered from a car that was approaching Ulmer. The car pulled alongside himthe window came there and down at the driver’s seat. He listened to the Champions League anthem to psych himself up.
“It’s possibly my favorite song,” Haaland advised Red Bull Salzburg’s official website. “I have been listening to this Champions League anthem because I was a tiny kid.”
It is. Also as their similarities about the football pitch, both appear to possess similar characteristics.
Haaland was unsurprisingly the man of the minute and he had been requested with a Uefa journalist he had been feeling following the greatest accomplishment in his career.
“Really good,” has been Haaland’s short reply, stated with a wry grin on his face.
The interviewer pressed :”What is the key? Seventeen goals currently in nine matches…”
“To work hard”
“Your father scored at Anfield in 1997 – are you really going to follow suit?”
“I hope so.”
Arrogant? Maybe. Confident? Definitely. It’s not surprising , awarded Ibrahimovic was the player Haaland aspired to be while growing up.
“I had many role models and looked up to many football players, however, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the biggest of them all,” he explained.
“The way he has so good, the way he plays… Besides, he is Scandinavian, therefore he’s got to be followed by a single!”
The late 1990s and early 2000s was a golden age for Norwegian football, as a steady flow of talented players played in the top leagues of Europe.
The Significant tournament Norway was Euro 2000, if their squad included Henning Berg, Tore Andre Flo, Solskjaer, John Arne Riise, John Carew and Eirik Bakke.
Those players all have long since retired and, for a little while, Norway seemed to have been left in the football wilderness.
However, Haaland is one of an exciting set of Norwegian art.
While towering 21-year-old defender Kristoffer Ajer is a starter at Celtic midfielder Martin Odegaard, on advance at Real Sociedad in Real Madrid, is just one of the standout performers in La Liga at the moment.
“Norwegians are excited,” continued Henrik Smith.
“However, there are people that will say Haaland’s hat-trick was against Genk, so perhaps we can not get too excited just yet.”
Contemplating his self-confessed love of soccer, Haaland seems destined to one day play in the Premier League.
But with which team? And when?
The connection with Solskjaer would create Manchester United a clear destination, though Haaland stated in a 2017 interview with a Norwegian paper that he wished to”win the Premier League with Leeds United”.
That, with the best regard to Leeds, is not likely to happen anytime soon, but one thing appears certain: Haaland, under the guidance of his dad Alf-Inge, will think about his next move.
Juventus voiced an interest however the forwards chose instead to move to Austria recognising Red Bull Salzburg’s dedication.
Duo Sadio Mane and Naby Keita equally played before earning moves. Mane went into the Premier League with Southampton, Keita with RB Leipzig to the Bundesliga.
“I believed it was too premature to go there,” Haaland said of the Juventus interest.
“Salzburg was that the club that suited me the very best and I think it was very important to check at how important a component I was going to play to the club that I joined. There is more of a chance of playing ”
Molde managing director Oystein Neerland is convinced Haaland will proceed when the timing is appropriate.
“Alf-Inge has brought up a fantastic son and was a fantastic father in football in telling him to choose the ideal measures up to now,” Neerland told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast.
“As I understand from Molde, I believe Erling will manage and take control of the situation. It turned out to be a move from Molde to Salzburg and maybe in a few years he’ll take some actions to a bigger club.
“I believe he could be a much greater player and reach a higher level.”
Regardless of his next move could possibly be, Haaland’s stock is only going to continue to climb if he can preserve his incredible goalscoring start.
And when he puts in another performance against Liverpool on Wednesday, Ibrahimovic himself may actually sit up and take note.
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