In Focus: Birthday boy Haaland is European football's hottest property
Despite only turning 21 today, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is already among the world’s top marksmen.
The Norway star is Europe’s most in-demand forward and the biggest clubs around are desperate to snap him up after two sensational seasons at Red Bull Salzburg and BVB.
As The Terminator celebrates his birthday with the world at his feet, we run the rule over why the prodigious youngster is the summer transfer window's hottest property.
Goals, goals, goals
When Haaland struck nine times in one match at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup, it was obvious Norway had a prolific goalscorer on their hands.
While he has never been able to replicate that remarkable haul in the 12-0 victory over Honduras, his scoring record is still outstanding for both club and country.
Seven goals in 12 full caps is impressive enough but pales in comparison with Haaland’s numbers for Salzburg and Dortmund.
He scored 16 goals in 14 Austrian Bundesliga appearances in 2019-20 before joining Dortmund in January 2020.
Since then, Haaland has netted 40 times in 43 German Bundesliga appearances.
A lethal finisher
Haaland does not need to be presented with many chances before he finds the back of the net.
The forward managed to get 52.2% of his 90 shots last season on target, putting him inside the Bundesliga’s top five players for that metric.
But his goals per shot record is even more striking.
Koln’s Ellyes Skhiri (0.29) was the only player in Germany’s top flight to post a better ratio than Haaland’s 0.28 strikes per effort on goal.
An all-round attacker
Standing at 6ft 4in, it is no surprise Haaland is a significant physical presence in the final third.
That enables him to frequently force his way onto the ball in dangerous areas and is reflected in his 6.89 touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes.
While not his primary role in Dortmund’s side, Haaland is also adept at winning the ball back in the final third and bringing his team-mates into play.
It is an area where the BVB No9 is improving each season, with a return of six league assists in 2020-21 representing the striker’s best contribution since beginning his professional career.
The next step
There is a sense Haaland has already outgrown the Bundesliga, despite only spending one full season in Germany.
There is interest in the Leeds-born striker from across Europe, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea believed to be in the hunt for his signature.
But the situation is complicated by a release clause in Haaland’s contract, which only comes into effect next summer and will allow him to leave for around £64million.
It will cost more than double that amount to secure his services this summer, leaving Europe’s top sides in a quandary.
Is it worth getting ahead of the pack by making a move over the coming weeks, even though it will cost an eye-watering amount of money?
Dortmund deny movement
That appears to be the strategy of big-spending Chelsea, who are reportedly looking to make a £150m offer for Haaland to beat the competition.
But Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has claimed the club will not consider any bids this summer, despite agent Mino Raiola trying to drum up business.
He said: "I've known Mino for a long time and get along well with him. You have to accept his idiosyncrasies. But he also knows the idiosyncrasies of Borussia Dortmund.
"He can give a new interview every day for all I care. It's no problem for us. Haaland will remain a BVB player."
Whether an exceptional offer can change that outlook remains to be seen but a move will eventually be on the cards and the forward’s future could not look brighter.
At just 21, Haaland is surely destined to become a modern-day great in the years ahead.