City’s inventiveness combined with Haaland’s precision finishing should terrify clubs all around Europe.
Published 15 June 2022
Manchester City won the Premier League title this season with a total of 99 goals. With 16 players finding the net during the season, they scored more goals than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues. There are several holes in their roster that need to be filled, particularly at left back and in central midfield, but the champions’ first summer addition was Erling Haaland, who cost £51.5 million. The best side in England has finally added the goalscorer they were looking for a year ago.
Injury limited the Norwegian to 21 Bundesliga starts this season, but he finished with 22 goals and seven assists. For every 87 minutes he spent on the field, he scored a goal. Importantly, Haaland compensates for a weakness in the City lineup.
Yes, they score lots of goals, but City wanted a world-class striker after Sergio Agüero left. They signed Julián lvarez in January, but let him stay with River Plate to grow. He may play as a wide forward rather than a striker.
This season, City had no goal-scorer. A natural striker would have helped them in the Champions League and put them more than a point ahead of Liverpool in the league table. Liverpool signed Uruguay striker Darwin Nez from Benfica for €100m, and Luis Daz is available for preseason, so City couldn’t afford to do nothing.
Only Liverpool (97) had more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than City (87) this season. City had little trouble creating chances, but they weren’t always good at converting them. Liverpool converted 55.3% of their clearcut chances, highest in the league, while City scored from 46.7%, fifth-best. Haaland won’t waste. He scored on 78.3% of his clean chances in the Bundesliga this season, the most of any player with 10 or more.
Haaland’s conversion rate is skewed by his penalty record, although his coolness from the spot is a plus. Since last season’s start, City has scored 12 of 18 penalties. Haaland will solve their problems.
So will their goal scoring. City scored 81 goals from inside the box this season, more than any team save Liverpool, but also missed chances. They needed 16.6 touches per goal, seventh-best in the Premier League. Liverpool’s goals required 15.7 area touches. Bundesliga goals by Haaland required seven area touches.
He was playing for a different team with a different style in a different league, but his ruthlessness is apparent, and he’ll get more chances with City. Dortmund averaged 13.3 shots and 9.8 critical passes per game compared to City’s 18.8 and 14.2. Haaland maximized his goal-scoring chances. His clinical finishing and teammates’ ingenuity are dangerous.
Moving from the Bundesliga to the Premier League is difficult for attackers. Haller, Werner, and Havertz struggled. When Haaland transferred from RB Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, the same issues were addressed. On his debut against Augsburg, he scored a 23-minute hat-trick.
Haaland’s skillset and physicality will help him flourish in a side that produces many chances.