Erling Erland has “an extraordinary mentality” to go along with his “outstanding” ability as a footballer, according to Borussia Dortmund teammate Emre Can.
The pair joined BVB during the winter transfer window from Red Bull Salzburg and Juventus respectively, and both soon became first-team regulars in Lucien Favre’s side, who finished the season as Bundesliga runners-up behind Bayern Munich.
Haaland announced his arrival in some style, scoring a hat-trick off the bench away to Augsburg on Matchday 18 to spark a come-from-behind 5-3 victory. Still just 19, the 6’3” powerhouse ended the campaign with 13 league goals at a rate of one every 81 minutes – at exactly the same clip as Bayern’s 34-goal top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
Watch: Highlights of Haaland's debut hat-trick over Augsburg
That is just one of the reasons why Can counts himself among the young forward’s growing band of admirers. “Erling’s got everything an outstanding striker needs,” the Germany international told the official Dortmund website.
“He’s unbelievably quick, is big, is good in the air, has a good shot and he knows where the goal is. He’s also extremely mature for his age. Erling lives in a very professional way. If he keeps going like this, he’s got a huge career ahead of him.”
That professionalism manifests itself in a relentless pursuit of marginal gains. “While we play cards on away trips, he only reads scientific articles on how to improve his sleep or nutrition,” recalled former Salzburg teammate Maximilian Wober in an interview with Goal in December 2019. “He's always looking for the smallest details.”
That mindset has made a big impression on Can. “We talk to each other a lot about how we can improve and about how we can best make the most of our strengths in order for the team to achieve success,” the 26-year-old said.
“We think in the same way. We want to be successful and we push each other. Erling’s got an extraordinary mentality. I really like his mentality a lot.”
After finishing 13 points behind Bayern in 2019/20, Dortmund will be hoping to reap the benefits of the duo’s understanding as they renew their quest to dethrone the 29-time Bundesliga champions when the new season begins on 18 September.