Ex-Dortmunder Erling Haaland has once again been named footballer of the year in Norway. The 22-year-old Manchester City star striker has been awarded the Golden Ball (Gullballen) for best male player in his home country – for the third time in a row. You don’t have to be a prophet to predict that international honors will also come for the hulking centre-forward. “Of course it’s great to win it again this year. It shows that I’m doing something right,” said Haaland modestly in a video published by the association. Above all, he would like to thank the physiotherapists who work with him every day and invest countless hours in it.

The bare numbers speak volumes. In 19 league games, the Norwegian has scored an impressive 25 goals. If Haaland were to keep this quota, the insane number of 50 goals after 38 games would be in the air. For comparison, as premierleague.com reports, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah currently holds the record for most goals in a 38-game season (32 goals in 2017/18), while Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer scored in 1993/94 and 1993/94 respectively. Scored 34 goals each in 1994/95 (after 42 games). According to the current forecast, the 22-year-old would marginalize all of these records.

Luis Suarez is a “warning” example. The Uruguayan netted 22 times in his first 16 Premier League games in the 2013/14 season. By the end of the season, only nine more hits had been added. Well-known US analysis website FiveThirtyEight (ABC News) lists Haaland’s previous records for 2022/23: he is the fastest player to score 10 goals (after six games); he is the fastest player to score three hat-tricks (after eight games) and he is the fastest player with 20 goals (after 13 games). In addition, the Norwegian is the only player to have scored 20 goals before January – even though this season had to take a six-week break due to the Desert World Cup in Qatar.

If you look at the five major football leagues in Europe (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France), even the world stars have to worry about their records. Newly crowned Argentinian world champion Lionel Messi scored an unprecedented 50 goals for FC Barcelona in his phenomenal 2011/12 La Liga season. Former Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski surpassed the age-old Bundesliga record set by Gerd “Bomber der Nation” Müller after 49 years – and ended up scoring a historic 41 goals (2020/21 season). What Haaland has ahead of its competitors is the fact that at the age of 22, it is very likely that it has not fully exploited its potential.

Messi was two years older during his record season and had been one of the absolute regulars of the Catalan footballers for years. Cristiano Ronaldo, then still in the service of Real Madrid, was even 29 in his 48-goal season. Haaland’s footballing zenith still seems a long way off. Not uninteresting: Messi’s mentor at the time was a certain Pep Guardiola. The Spanish champion coach stands like no other for transforming individual players into the best in their respective positions. Messi, Xavi, Iniesta formed a dream offensive in Barcelona for years, Lewandowsi became a top striker in Munich under Guardiola – later also world footballer. De Bruyne, Rodri and João Cancelo, who has meanwhile switched to Bayern Munich, are currently at Manchester City and manifest the impression. It is therefore not presumptuous to believe that Pep Guardiola can also lead Erling Haaland into new spheres. As long as the 1.95 meter man with the blond hair remains injury-free – and stays focused – even Messi and Co. should fear for their records.

Sources: Premierleague.com, FiveThirtyEight, ABC News, Transfermarkt.de, DPA