Ever since Manchester City unveiled Erling Haaland as their marquee summer signing, football fans and pundits have debated whether or not the Norwegian is missing the puzzle the Citizens needed to end their European trophy drought.
Haaland has had a dream start to his life in England with 14 goals in his first ten outings for Man City.
Can he deliver the Champions League trophy that has eluded Manchester City for years?
Haaland stepped into Sergio Agüero’s shoes at City.
The Argentinian is considered a Premier League legend, a mainstay in the Manchester City folklore.
But not even the mercurial Sergio Agüero managed to guide Man City to European glory.
Can Haaland better his legacy?
Before leaving Manchester City for Barcelona in 2021, Sergio Agüero had scored 184 Premier League goals for City in 296 appearances.
He had an impressive Champions League record as well as he found the net 36 times for the Citizens in 64 appearances.
However, Sergio Agüero was not as prolific in the Champions League for City as he was in the Premier League.
He averaged a goal every 107 minutes in the Premier League, while in the Champions League, he hit the target every 119 minutes.
The record gets worse if you only consider his knockout stage goals in the competition.
Sergio Agüero’s pace and precision took a substantial hit in the final years of his Man City career.
So, Pep Guardiola tried other options in the attack.
Sometimes Gabriel Jesus would get the nod. Other times, he would choose to go striker-less and deploy a false nine system, asking one of his attacking midfielders to lead the line.
Pep’s False Nine experiment
In the Premier League, the false nine experiment worked as Manchester City took home four of the last five Premier League titles.
However, it did not pay off in the Champions League.
In the 2021 Champions League final, a toothless Man City frontline barely tested the Chelsea defence as the Blues claimed the trophy.
Last season, the Citizens paid the price for their wastefulness as Real Madrid came back from behind to knock them out of the Champions League semis.
Guardiola understood the need for a more clinical option up front and hence pushed Man City to secure Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian prodigy was hailed as the ‘’next big thing’’ in the post-Messi-Ronaldo world as he kept on scoring at unbelievable rates.
After scoring 29 goals with RB Salzburg in only 27 appearances, he honed his craft at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 86 goals in 89 matches over a two-and-a-half-year stay.
Manchester City did not change their playing style to accommodate Haaland; it was the other way around.
Harland has adapted to City
Haaland has quickly adapted himself to City’s style of play, but instead of focusing on getting the ball more, he prioritized making the most of the chances that fell on his feet.
As of September 16, he took only 13.2 touches on average to score a goal in the Premier League.
The new Man City striker already had ten goals to his name by then!
Haaland has already bagged three goals in two appearances for his new club in the Champions League. His minutes per goal ratio in the tournament stands at an unbelievable 62 mins/goal, a record for players who have scored more than 25 Champions League goals.
His nearest competitor Mario Götze scores one every 104 minutes.
Haaland’s incredible scoring record and conversion rate could be the difference-maker for City in this season’s Champions League title race.