Erling Haaland has taken just one season to set a new Premier League record of 35 goals in a single campaign to make a mockery of the idea that it takes time for new arrivals to settle in the English top flight.
The Norwegian powerhouse showed his swiftness of foot and subtlety in front of goal by racing clear to score City’s second in a 3-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday that put the English champions back on top of the table.
In the process the 22-year-old moved beyond the mark of 34 set by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole in the 1990s.
“A bit unreal to be honest,” said Haaland on the scale of the achievement. “I wasn’t thinking of this kind of record when I came here and to break it means I’ve done something special and I’m really proud of this moment.”
Haaland’s strike rate puts even his much-vaunted predecessors, who played in the era of 42-game seasons, in the shade.
Shearer started all 42 matches of the 1994/95 season as he fired Blackburn to the title, while Cole made 40 appearances the previous year for Newcastle.
By contrast, Haaland has reached 35 goals at a rate of one every 72 minutes in just 31 appearances.
“If you were building a centre-forward from the ground up, Erling is what you would be left with,” Shearer told The Athletic.
“He’s a goal machine, someone who is quick and direct, who is physically strong and good in the air, who can score with both feet and whose positioning is fantastic.”
City’s determination to win the battle among Europe’s elite clubs for the striker’s signature last year has been rewarded in spectacular fashion.
‘Scores everywhere’ – –
Pep Guardiola’s men won back-to-back league titles playing largely without an attacking focal point but any suggestion they could be thrown off course by Haaland’s arrival has proved unfounded.
“I remember (the stories that) he will not adjust to the Premier League,” Guardiola reminded reporters on Wednesday.
“We knew he scored goals everywhere and thought he could do it. He understands what we want to do but we have to admit the impact of how he adjusted to the team and the league was so quick.
“Immediately we saw he is a guy when you provide him balls, he can score all different types of goals.”
Haaland’s 51 goals in all competitions is firing with City to within touching distance of matching Manchester United’s historic treble of 1998/99.
The English champions face Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League and take on United in the FA Cup final on June 3.
This is the stage Haaland craved when deciding to follow his father’s footsteps and join City 12 months ago.
Alf-Inge Haaland was a tough-tackling midfielder prior to an Abu Dhabi-backed takeover in 2008 that made City one of the world’s richest clubs and transformed their fortunes.
But his son Erling was a natural-born goalscorer who has already become a global superstar.
Alf-Inge has been credited with careful management of his son’s steady rise through the ranks of European football.
Haaland made his debut for his home-town club Bryne aged just 15 before signing for Molde, then managed by former Manchester United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in 2017.
Less than two years later he moved again, joining Austrian club Salzburg.
In 2019 Haaland offered an early insight into the devastation he can wreak, scoring nine times in a 12-0 hammering of Honduras at the Under-20 World Cup.
But it was his explosion onto the Champions League scene that really caught the eye, with eight goals in six games in the 2019/20 season.
There was speculation of a reunion with Solskjaer, then in charge of United, but Borussia Dortmund won the race, boosted by their reputation for developing young talent.
Two-and-a-half years and 86 goals in 89 games later, Haaland had his pick of clubs thanks to a cannily negotiated 60 million euro ($67 million, £53 million) buyout clause that left Dortmund short-changed.
City have cashed in, with Haaland’s goals leaving them close to a cherished treble and burnishing their newfound status as one of the world’s leading clubs.
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