Erling Haaland has quickly established himself as one of football’s elite goalscorers at just 22-years-old. The Norwegian striker has a natural ability to score, a point that he has proven time and time again. He was already a superstar at Dortmund but his inaugural season in the Premier League with Manchester City has sent him into the stratosphere. His enormous tally of 52 goals from 52 appearances this campaign helped City secure an FA Cup, their third successive Premier League title as well as the club’s first ever Champions League in a famous treble. It has been the perfect start to life in England’s top flight and with so much of his career still ahead of him, Haaland is poised to break all kinds of goalscoring records in Manchester. However, as good as this season has been for the Norwegian, England captain Harry Kane has been in a similarly rich vein of form. Kane has single-handedly dragged Tottenham up the table, somehow netting 30 Premier League goals in a distinctly average Spurs side. The North London club finished in eighth, just missing out on those coveted European places, but it would have been considerably worse if not for the contributions of the 29-year-old. Many have in fact speculated that he has had a better season than the Norwegian because of it. While there’s no debate that Haaland will be the happier of the two with three trophies in the bag, the theory often posed is that Kane could’ve potentially exceeded the youngster’s goal tally if he were leading City’s attack. The implication being that Kane actively enhances Spurs whereas Haaland is just a highly efficient cog in Pep Guardiola’s machine. But is that really the case?
No player has had the impact upon arrival like the Norwegian has. The number of records he has broken in his first season in England beggars belief. He scored 36 goals in his first 35 Premier League appearances, claiming the record for most goals in a single season. No player has scored more in the English top flight since Ron Davies netted 37 times for Southampton in 1966/67. With 52 goals in all competitions, Haaland broke the record for most goals in one season by a Premier League player, comfortably surpassing Mo Salah’s tally of 44 in 2017/18. He has scored the most goals of any player in his first five Premier League games with nine beating the previous record held by former City forward Sergio Aguero. He has also broken several hat-trick records too. He is not only one of six players to score back-to-back hat-tricks in Premier League history, but also the first player to score hat-tricks in three successive home games and the fastest ever player to reach three Premier League hat-tricks, reaching the feat in just eight games beating the previous record held by Michael Owen by 40 games! The list of individual accomplishments is seemingly endless and that’s before you even consider the fact his goals helped City win the FA Cup, Premier League, and Champions League this season. BettingOdds.com have spoken about Erling Haaland winning the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi this year. If you’re into statistics then this is an open and shut case. However, it shouldn’t be that simple an analysis. Although the goals are flowing and Haaland is lethal in front of goal, he lacks the quality in his teamplay compared to his counterpart in this debate. It was assumed Haaland would adapt to City’s tactical style, but surprisingly for large parts of this season he has been even less involved outside the box at City than he was at Dortmund. While by many metrics City have done just as well as the previous season, when faced with some stern defensive tactics from opposition that stifle their wingers and crowd out the Norwegian talisman, they have often struggled. The problem died out towards the end of the season but if not for Pep Guardiola waving his magic, City’s season might have turned out very differently. This doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality of Haaland as a player, but it certainly suggests that he poses more of a tactical conundrum for Guardiola than Kane would in his side.
Speaking of the Tottenham striker, in terms of pure numbers he is obviously streaks ahead of the Norwegian having played several more seasons of Premier League football. The Englishman has amassed a gargantuan tally of 213 Premier League goals and sits only 48 shy of the all-time Premier League goalscoring record held by Alan Shearer. Kane might well be racing past milestones but Kane is on 264 goals for Spurs and is also top of the pile for England too with 55 goals for his country. And while the 29-year-old has never scored 36 times in a single season, he has in fact scored back-to-back Premier League hat tricks like Haaland, but did it twice, and in a single season. Haaland has had a remarkable season but Kane has been no slouch. In fact, we should remind ourselves that Kane was in fact the preferred option to Haaland for a time at the Etihad. In hindsight, City viewed Haaland as the better value player by far for only £51 million compared to the reported asking price of £125 million for Kane, but that should not detract from Tottenham striker’s supreme all-round game. Of course, given Haaland’s youth if he continues on the same trajectory he will likely surpass any tally Kane reaches come the end of his career but Kane possesses facets to his game that Haaland does not. Haaland has remarkable finishing and unbeatable pace but the Englishman is brilliant at holding the ball up, working tirelessly off the ball, creating opportunities for others, and he has one of the best passing games in the league. These are all attributes that would’ve made him a perfect fit in Guardiola’s side, arguably more so than Haaland, and what also make him the ultimate centre forward. It’s often said that Haaland is like a highly-efficient robot in front of goal and the statistics back that up, but it’s not all about statistics. If this debate is purely about a striker’s ability to score goals, then the answer is pretty simple, Haaland will almost certainly score more next season as part of an incredible City team that will lay it on a platter for him. However, as unpopular an opinion as it might be given the current landscape, the player with the better all-round game is Spurs’ David to City’s Goliath, Harry Kane.