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Transfer Spotlight: Manchester City’s Erling Haaland

Is Haaland the missing piece of Pep’s puzzle?

Erling Haaland - Manchester City - Premier League
How many times will he be celebrating next season?
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Man City finally gets a striker, and this one’s a doozy. After Sergio Aguero left Man City at the end of the 2020-21 season, it was expected that Pep would pick up a striker that summer to replace him. He tried to prise Harry Kane away from Tottenham, but that didn’t materialize. To everyone’s surprise, the Citizens went into last season — and indeed right through the season — with no addition at striker, instead relying on other highly-talented attackers to supply the goals. This worked pretty well, with seven players in double-figures over the season. Riyad Mahrez led the way on 24 goals, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling contributing a further 36 between them.

But despite this, at times they clearly lacked a dedicated finisher (would this have made their dominance count against Real Madrid?), and it is no surprise that they’ve finally moved, activating a 60m euro (£51.2m) escape clause in Erling Haaland’s contract with Borussia Dortmund.

Is he exactly what City needs, and what is it going to mean for next season’s fantasy teams?


Background

Erling Braut Haaland was born on 21 July 2000, making him just 21 years old for a few more weeks. He is Norwegian, although he was actually born in Leeds in the UK. His father, Alf-Inge Haaland was also a Norwegian international, playing in the Premier League for Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Leeds United (the last explaining Erling’s place of birth).

It’s a nice piece of symmetry that all three of Alf-Inge Haaland’s former teams will line up in the Premier League together, following Leeds’ narrow escape from relegation and Nottingham Forest’s play-off victory (oh yeah, we owe y’all an article about promotion don’t we?). It’s also interesting to note that in 1998-99, while Leeds and Forest were in the Premier League (although Forest was relegated), the Citizens were TWO divisions down, plying their trade in League 1. Still, fortunes (and money) have changed, Manchester City becoming one of the country’s (and world’s) foremost teams.

Despite Erling Haaland being only 21, he is a big lad, standing 1.94m tall (6 feet 4 inches) and weighing 88kg (194 lbs — or nearly 14 stone). He’s also going to be very well off, with a salary reported to be £375,000 per week, similar to that of Kevin De Bruyne, making him one of the top earners at the club.

Haaland started his career at Norwegian side Bryne FK and moved for 100,000 euros to Molde FK in February 2017 (age 16) to play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Two years later, he joined RB Salzburg in Austria for 4M euros, which is where he really came to prominence, scoring ten goals, including one hattrick, and scoring against both Liverpool and Napoli.

Inevitably he moved quickly on, joining German side Borussia Dortmund for 20M euros. He continued to score heavily. Another ten goals followed in the Champions League 2020-21. He scored only three in this season’s competition, but then he played only three games (one of those as a sub) due to injury.

Overall in his time at Dortmund, Haaland scored 85 goals in 88 appearances, a ratio to excite fantasy managers. A move to one of Europe’s top teams seemed inevitable, and so now he heads to Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.


Fantasy Prospects

Looking at Haaland’s stats, this looks very straightforward. He offers a smattering of assists, but above all, goals, goals, goals! In his last three league seasons, he has scored at a rate of more than one goal per 90 minutes played — that’s one goal EVERY game. In the past three Champions League seasons, he has scored a goal roughly every 60 minutes, so that’s two goals every three games. Some of these have been penalties, and given Manchester City’s less than stellar record with these, we can expect him to take over penalty duties.

In the official FPL game, we can expect his price to be set at the top rate, probably similar to Harry Kane. He must be considered as a forward, which might put him at a slight disadvantage against the likes of Mo Salah (assuming Salah keeps his midfield position, which isn’t certain) and Kevin De Bruyne, who earn an extra point for each goal and each clean sheet, but Haaland’s likely to be one of the most popular picks anyway.

In Fantrax, expect him to be in almost every team at the start of the season, assuming he starts at the standard $7.00 price. Should the unlikely happen and he blanks in his first game, his price could crater. I expect him to be a fixture in most F-17 teams and many F-11 teams until/unless he becomes unavailable.

Arguably the main reason he has been bought is to finally get Manchester City a Champions League title, and with his UCL record playing for less-favored teams, you’d expect him to be in most teams in the UEFA Fantasy competition too.

So are there any negatives? The general opinion is that this is an excellent move all round except perhaps for City’s rivals. Jurgen Klopp said of Haaland’s move to Manchester City, “Beast” Erling Haaland is “a really good signing.”

One thing that worries me is that in each of the last three seasons Haaland has played just 15, 28 and 24 league games, missing a total of 33 due to injury while at Salzburg and Dortmund (an average of 11 games a season missed, with the numbers getting progressively worse). It is a stretch to imagine him playing every game at Manchester City, especially once the Champions League starts. It’s not as if City don’t have decent alternatives (although one or two may leave before the summer is over, given their likely reduced prospects for next year), so his arrival at the Etihad might only worsen the already-notoriously vexing Pep roulette. That could make him less attractive in fantasy formats where there is no bench cover.

But if he lives up to his career scoring record, a player who will on average score a goal in each game will surely be on most people’s radar every week.


Stats and info for this article were sourced from en.wikipedia.org, sofascore.com, understat.com, bbc.co.uk, transfermarket.com, en.as.com and talksport.com.

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What do you think of Haaland and his fantasy prospects? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Poll

Is Erling Haaland a good buy for Manchester City?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Definitely
    (5 votes)
  • 22%
    He’ll be OK, but susceptible to Pep roulette
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    Wait and see how he does in the Prem
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    No, too injury prone
    (1 vote)
9 votes total Vote Now

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