The Premier League is set to welcome another superstar with Erling Braut Haaland’s mega move to Manchester City almost complete.
The Premier League 2022 odds have City as big favourites to successfully defend their title this season, and Haaland’s likely addition will significantly improve their chances of winning the league for a third straight time in 2022-23.
But perhaps more importantly, Haaland could very well deliver what City have been dreaming of for over a decade: the Champions League.
So is Haaland the missing piece to Man City’s quest for English and European domination? Read SBOTOP’s breakdown below.
Thor, the modern ‘fenomeno’
So what are Manchester City getting with Erling Haaland? Arguably the most remarkable young striker since the Brazilian ‘O Fenomeno’ Ronaldo and the co-heir – along with Kylian Mbappe – to the Lionel Messi-or-Cristiano Ronaldo ‘best player in the world’ debate.
There’s a reason they call him ‘Thor’, and it’s not just because he’s a tall, blonde Scandinavian. Haaland is straight out of a comic book with his immense physical gifts. He is unbelievably fast, strong, explosive and agile for someone so big, so much so that he makes other top athletes look slow and plodding by comparison.
And aside from his elite physical tools, Haaland also has the preternatural instincts that the best goalscorers are seemingly just born with. Haaland used those talents to good use in Austria and then in Germany. Over the last three years, Haaland has scored an astounding 113 goals in 110 appearances.
And the scary part is that Haaland is far from the finished article. At just 21 years of age, there is still so much room to grow. His link-up play can certainly improve, and his intelligence can increase with experience so that he won’t need to rely so much on his overwhelming physicality quite as much.
But at present, Thor will quite possibly come to City near or at his physical peak, and he will be an absolute nightmare to go up against.
Man City get their magic striker
In Haaland, Manchester City finally got the striker they were searching for to replace the great Sergio Aguero. They came close to signing Harry Kane from Tottenham last summer, but the deal ultimately fell through.
Not that the lack of a truly top-class centre-forward has slowed City down. They have effectively been playing a striker-less system over the last two seasons – the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and even Kevin De Bruyne have taken turns creating Premier League 2022 highlights while playing the ‘false 9’ role – and are still on the verge of back-to-back Premier League titles.
They were also mere minutes away from reaching back-to-back Champions League finals, but Real Madrid did their magic to knock them out in the semi-finals.
Speaking of magic, this is what City are hoping Haaland can bring to their already dominant side. While Pep’s City have been a well-oiled machine over the last few years and can still win the Premier League even without a premier striker, they have not quite had that special, truly top-class player who can produce a moment of magic at any time to win them a big game in the Champions League.
Haaland certainly has the chance to be that player. With his physical gifts, he can be an absolutely unstoppable force of nature who can simply overpower City’s opposition into submission.
With the combination of City’s outstanding defence and Haaland’s ability to almost singlehandedly score goals, City may finally have the formula to capture European glory.
No excuses for Man City now
Even without Haaland, Kane, or any other top centre-forward, Manchester City have been arguably the best team in Europe this season, with Liverpool their only competition.
But with Haaland, they should be even better. Guardiola, who has worked with prolific prototypical centre-forwards like Robert Lewandowski and Aguero in the past, can surely tailor a system that suits Haaland’s unique skills. And should that system fail at certain times, Haaland has the game-changing ability to bail them out with his brilliance.
Haaland’s arrival means that Pep Guardiola simply has no excuses left not to win the Champions League. He now has arguably one of, if not the best striker in the world at his disposal as well as a truly world-class squad everywhere else.
Outside of injuries – which are perhaps the biggest weakness in Haaland’s game moving forward – there is no reason for Manchester City not to finally reign supreme in Europe. Such is Haaland’s ability that he should lift an already dominant City team to even greater heights.
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