Out of all of the talented players under the age of 20 across the globe, there is only one that is taking the world by storm and looking like a sure bet to contend for the world's top awards in the next few years. Borussia Dortmund star striker Erling Haaland, 19, is a goal-scoring machine, and those who are unfamiliar with him will soon become quite familiar as the Bundesliga returns this weekend. German soccer is back on Saturday with sports-craving eyes turning their attention to one of the world's best leagues. But who is Haaland and what makes him so special?
Here's what to know:
Size and speed
Haaland is a physical specimen, one who has the size that is coveted in central defenders. The only difference is, he gets paid to put balls in the goal, not to protect it. Haaland is 6-foot-4, much taller than the average striker. He's got a more toned body but is compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's size, but it's hard to think of any striker in the past that has had his rare combo of size and speed.
His speed has even gotten to the point where it's reportedly approaching world-record levels. Against PSG in the Champions League, he made a 60-meter sprint in 6.64 seconds, which is three-tenths of a second off the world record from American Christian Coleman, according to Sky Italia.
He's great with his feet, evident by all of his goals, he can also put the ball away from his head and use that strength to bully off defenders. But when you add the speed, he's a unique breed.
While the size and speed are great, experience is how you get better. Haaland began to make rumbles at the U-20 World Cup last year where he scored nine goals for Norway against Honduras. Still, he wasn't that well known of a player entering his first full season with Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, coached by American Jesse Marsch.
At Salzburg, he played in 22 games in just the first half of last season, scoring 28 times while becoming an international star overnight with eight goals in the Champions League. That opened up the door for a move to a big team like Dortmund in January, and he hasn't slowed down. With 12 goals in 11 games for the German club, he's now scored 40 goals in his last 33 matches.
"He's 19 years old, [an] exceptional player. Just a really big, big talent with a wonderful future, 100 percent," Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said of Haaland this season in the Champions League.
Red Bull Salzburg
The sky is the limit
Any projection as to what type of player he could be can be derailed at any second by an injury, but Haaland is approaching Kylian Mbappe-like hype. That means by the age of 21, he will likely be one of the top players in the world.
He's already shown he can score five goals in 56 minutes, so just imagine what the possibilities are.
Linked with clubs like Real Madrid, he's well on his way to potentially becoming the most expensive transfer of all time at some point in his career as well as perhaps the world's best player. Haaland hasn't even come close to entering his prime, and one would imagine that if he continues to progress as he has, he's a sure-fire 30 goals a season guy with a ceiling higher than that of Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez.
Haaland is the top pure striker prospect since Ibrahimovic, and he's already accomplished more than Ibra did by the age of 19.
In just two months at Dortmund, he has more goals (12) than Cristiano Ronaldo had in his first full season at Manchester United (6) and Lionel Messi had in his first full season at Barcelona (8).
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