Erling Haaland “the last piece of the puzzle” for Manchester City to win the Champions League?

Playing in the main European football competition should be difficult. Haaland it made it seem anything but.

Haaland’s first goal came after just two minutes and he completed the highs before the referee had even blown for half-time.

After signing for Borussia Dortmund in January 2020, Haaland showed no signs of slowing down and began breaking numerous Champions League records.

No player in the history of the competition has scored 10 goals in fewer games than Haaland; he became the first player to score the most goals in four consecutive games; and the Norwegian is the youngest player to reach 20 goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Raul and Zlatin Ibrahimovic are just some of the great forwards of all time who have honored the Champions League. Yet Haaland eclipsed them all in their early days.

And since his Champions League debut, only Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have scored more goals than Haaland.

It is not only in the Champions League that Haaland broke records. He scored a hat-trick on his Dortmund Bundesliga debut and became the youngest player to reach 50 goals in the German top flight.

Former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt, who was the first Norwegian to play in the Premier League, says these extraordinary scoring exploits should come as no surprise.

“He’s a physical monster,” Thorstvedt told CNN’s Don Riddell. “He can run that fast, he’s physically brutal, he can wipe people out, but he needs to know the patterns Man City works on.

“He’s really motivated, really ambitious. He has his coaches working on his physique … I think those forwards are a special breed, they just want goals and I think he wants to win the Golden Boot and I think he wants to win the Golden Ball”.

Now that Haaland’s transfer to Manchester City is confirmed, ending one of the most contested transfer sagas of recent times, it’s easy to imagine opposition managers and defenders losing sleep at the prospect of facing him.

After all, City are a side that have scored the most Premier League goals this season – 89 alongside Liverpool – without playing with a recognized striker.

At times, particularly in the crucial 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Etihad, spectators have complained about the lack of a proper ‘No. 9’ to score the numerous chances created by Pep Guardiola’s side.

While this is perhaps an oversimplification of some of City’s problems going forward, there are certainly occasions when a player with Haaland’s skills would have benefited in front of goal.

But playing for Guardiola can be notoriously tricky. The Spaniard is known for being one of the greatest tactical minds in history, with some players – see Jack Grealish this season – likely struggling to get to grips with Guardiola’s philosophy and style.

While Haaland undoubtedly boasts the physical attributes to thrive in the Premier League, Thorstvedt says adapting to Guardiola’s style may prove more complicated.

“He will obviously score many goals, but he also needs to get into Pep’s thinking, in the way Man City play,” he says. “There are others on that team who are better at skill, close control, that rotation when players move around the pitch.

“Hey [Haaland] he can do it, but not as well as the others. “It is also questionable: how much can Man City really improve? I mean, can they really get that many more points in the Premier League? Can they really score that many more goals?

Manchester City confirm 'agreement in principle' for Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund

“But I think there are still some margins to be gained and of course the important thing is the Champions League, if they win next season with Erling in the team, obviously everyone will point to it as the last piece of the puzzle. Finally, they have taken it and they got the trophy “.

While Thorstvedt says Haaland “can’t wait” to work under “football genius” Guardiola, his Dortmund teammate Marco Reus has seen firsthand for more than two years the incredible potential that the 21-year-old will lead to Manchester City.

Guardiola’s side collapsed spectacularly once again in the Champions League this season, conceding two goals in two minutes at the end of the 90s – then again at the start of extra time – when they were eliminated by Real Madrid.

There were chances for City at the end of the second leg of that semifinal that it’s hard to imagine Haaland missing and Reus describes the attacker’s skills as exactly what Guardiola’s team needed at the time when things started to collapse.

“Energy. A lot of energy,” Reus told CNN’s Darren Lewis of Haaland’s attributes. “Lots of good things, trust me. As a young man you are just carefree, you don’t worry so much. When he arrived, we just saw his energy, which is … actually increased.

“Obviously, he has also become a little more experienced with time because he has played a lot of games. He definitely has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the world. He is still incredibly young. He has an incredible amount ahead of him.”