I have seen the Paul Bunyan of soccer, and he is 19 years old. Erling Haaland is a 6-foot, 4-inch Norwegian man-mountain of a forward whose goal-scoring feats have to be seen to be believed.
The following are all true statements: Erling Haaland scored a hat trick in his first Champions League game for Salzburg on his first three shots. Erling Haaland scored a hat trick in his first game for Dortmund last weekend on his first three shots. Erling Haaland scored nine goals in an Under-20 World Cup game last summer against Honduras. Erling Haaland scored 28 goals in 22 games for Salzburg in the first half of the season before transferring to Dortmund, where his debut hat trick came as a substitute. He scored two more goals in his subsequent performance, also as a reserve.
Did we say Erling Haaland is 19?
"Erling's special. He's a special talent, a special guy. At 19 years old he's an incredible professional," his now-former coach from Salzburg, Jesse Marsch, told SI.com earlier in the season, before Haaland burst onto the Champions League stage to announce his arrival. "That's what I think makes the best young players special–their mentality, their attention to detail, their desire to be the best. I saw it every day with [U.S. and RB Leipig midfielder] Tyler Adams, and now that's the case with Erling. I think the sky's the limit for this kid."
The great thing about Haaland is that despite his size, he’s not a brute-force one-trick pony in the air. He has terrific feet, moves well and reads the game.
What’s more, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. Choosing to go to Dortmund instead of Manchester United—after he chose to go to Salzburg instead of bigger clubs—shows that he’s most concerned with his development as a player, not just with chasing money.
All I know is I can’t wait to see Haaland play for Dortmund every week, including in Champions League, and learn what other Bunyan-esque feats he has in store for us.