Erling Haaland’s incredible start to life in the Premier League with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City continued at the weekend against rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, with the Norwegian stat once again producing another otherworldly performance in his side’s 6-3 Manchester derby win.
The 22-year-old Leeds native bagged another hat-trick - his third already this season - while also turning supplier with a brace of assists to produce his best performance to date in a City shirt against the club that ended the career of his father and former City midfielder, Alfie Haaland.
Haaland now sits on 103 goals in 100 appearances in top leagues in Europe, producing the best goal rate among a pantheon of former greats in the same position the likes of Romario, Ronaldo, and Luis Suárez.
But for former Liverpool defender now turned pundit Jamie Carragher, Haaland’s influence and sheer dominance despite his tender age takes him back to his playing days and reminds him of one former antagonist in particular; Thierry Henry.
“It took me back to being a player [referencing Haaland’s dominant performance against the likes of Raphaël Varane]. So, yes it should have been so much better from United but I’ve got sympathy because I put myself in their position where I was, for two years, there is only one player in my career that affected me mentally on a pitch, and that was Thierry Henry.”
“Lots of players have played against great players but you go into a game thinking ‘I can get the better of them, I might make mistakes, things might happen’ but Thierry Henry from 2002 to 2004, when I went to play against him, I was only thinking about him...and it affected my game.”
“And one of the most embarrassed I have been on a football pitch was the goal when Liverpool conceded at Highbury where Herny goes on a run and I sort of fall over and cower, and I am that embarrassed because that is not me...it’s not my way of thinking. It was the Thierry Henry effect. And what he’s [Haaland] doing is, he’s making defenders not think ‘can I stop him playing well? can I stop him scoring?’ no, defenders are going into games thinking ‘don’t embarrass me.’ and that’s what I used to feel against Thierry Henry.”
“If he scored, or he did okay, as long as he didn’t embarrass me. And I openly admit that. And that’s the effect I think in this early stage of his Premier League career he is already having on top Premier League defenders.”
With Haaland already sitting on 14 goals for the league campaign (more goals than fourteen Premier League clubs and the same return as Brighton), not only is the Norwegian star on course to set the single-season goal record while likely breaking the 40-goal barrier, but he could genuinely set a record that could be unbreakable.