No name has been more repeated in newspapers, gatherings, programs, bar conversations and sports news, in recent months than that of Erling Braut Haaland (20). That young man who rose to fame in the summer of 2019 after scoring nine goals in a U-20 World Cup match and a few months later debut with a hat-trick in the Champions League, was facing his first full season in the elite this year.
Although expectations were high, the Norwegian broke them with astonishing ease. Their 33 goals (10 in the Champions League) and 10 assists in 35 games, in addition to exhibitions such as against Sevilla where he scored a double in each match of the knockout round of the round of 16, he became the man of fashion and the priority for the biggest in Europe.
Europe's right eye
His next leap in his meteoric career had always been subject to the alleged verbal agreement between Borussia Dortmund and Mino Raiola (Norwegian's agent) for which the forward would have a 75 million clause in the summer of 2022. But his performance and the evidence that he is to be the star of any team in the world, made the rules of the game change and there was talk of an outing this summer.
In that scenario, Raiola declared in The Athletic that he was too careful taking him to Dortmund by opening his door wide, “this boy can go to any team, he goes faster than expected.” Before long, the agent and Haaland's father visited Spain to meet with Madrid and Barça. All this coinciding with one of the most difficult moments for the Norwegian.
Seven games, his worst scoring drought
All this media noise seems like it's not doing Haaland all that well. Since scoring a double against Colonia in a match that ended in a draw and in the one who was visibly pissed off, Haaland has not seen the door again. A total of seven matches in almost a month that suppose to overcome the worst streak he had in Salzburg (six games, three with Norway under-21 and three with his club) and equalize his longest period of drought, the one he had in El Molde when he was only 17 years old between September and November 2017. Many games without scoring for a player who is certainly not used to it.
Thanks to all the fans all over the world for supporting us. Our @ChampionsLeague journey may be done but our season is not done. We will keep fighting for you and for the team! We still have goals to achieve! ???????? pic.twitter.com/01rVaVS17G
– Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) April 15, 2021
It all started with his arrival in the Norwegian National Team, with all of Spain keeping an eye on his concentration in Marbella, where failed to score in any of the three games despite facing rivals like Gibraltar, Turkey and Montenegro. Upon his return to Germany, he was expected to see his killer version again, but he did not score in the tough defeat against Eintracht that complicates Borussia's qualification for the Champions League. Neither did he in the victory against Stuttgart. Not even before the arrival of his fetish competition, the Champions League where he is top scorer with 10 goals and has broken all records with 20 goals in 16 games, Haaland has been able to see the door.
Among the rumors of signing for the team that his father defended for three seasons, Haaland has shown his most vulnerable version in the Champions League. Guardiola's City has known how to stop him like no one else, leaving him the Stones-Dias duo with just one shot on goal in the first leg and without even shooting between the three sticks in the return leg. For the first time in this edition, the Norwegian was left without scoring as a local.
Humanizing the 'cyborg'
Accustomed to shining like nobody else, his downturn does not go unnoticed and his coach, Edin Terzic, did not hesitate to go out to defend his pupil after the elimination, explaining that it was not the cause of the bad moment of the team. “We always think that Erling scores the way he wants in every game. But he is a person and a young player. There are always times when you don't mark. But that is not our problem. He play's very well. If you look at the goal we scored today, it played an important role in protecting the ball and running the gaps. “
This Sunday against Werder Bremen Haaland can sign his worst scoring streak in his short career. With the elimination of the Champions League they are forced to win to continue fighting for that fourth place that allows them return to the biggest European competition next season. Something that seems essential for the Norwegian to stay. Break his drought or not, it is easy to think that all the media noise in recent weeks, where he has been the absolute protagonist of the transfer rumors, has not sat well with him. Something understandable for a player who despite proving to be among the best in the world, he is only 20 years old.
Haaland will score again, even more than he had been doing, but for Borussia's sake he should start doing it as soon as possible or else, outside of Europe, they will have too few weapons to stop the Erling Halaand auction.