Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has been left in no two minds about the gifts of his new striker Erling Haaland after witnessing him up close at the club’s winter training camp, saying “he has something special”.
The 19-year-old got to know his new teammates at close quarters recently, having spent a week at Dortmund’s winter base in Spain, where he made his debut for the club in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Mainz.
The result notwithstanding, Favre has liked what he’s seen from his new charge. “He’s big, but he can make runs behind the defence,” he told German sports publication kicker.
“He works for the team, is able to link up with his teammates and he can play. After everything I’ve seen so far I can say this for certain: Haaland will help us. He’s got something special.”
That can only mean good news for Dortmund, who are currently fourth in the standings, seven points adrift of leaders Leipzig as they prepare for their Rückrunde opener away to Augsburg on Saturday.
Given Haaland’s powerful 6’4” frame, he offers the side a physical alternative they have not had in recent years, with captain Marco Reus recently saying he’s the kind of striker Dortmund have been without “since Robert Lewandowski” left in 2014.
Watch: Haaland on his decision to join Dortmund
Favre seemingly holds a similar view: “He’s a proper striker who usually takes up a position between the two centre-backs, but is happy to drop deeper to support the midfielders. When he’s on the pitch we’ll have to make a couple of corrections [to our game].”
Despite such glowing words, Favre also insisted fans will have to be patient with the forward as he adapts to his new surroundings.
“He’s only trained with us three times, which isn’t very much. He’ll need some time, for sure. Haaland can’t play in every game. Even 19-year-olds need to be given breaks, so we’ll need to take care. He’s not the only option we have up front.”