bundesliga

Erling Haaland: The Borussia Dortmund striker outscoring Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at 20

Erling Haaland only turned 20 in July 2020, but has already scored 88 goals in 131 senior appearances for club and country. Is the Borussia Dortmund and Norway phenom the man to fill the boots of Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Haaland has much in common with the crème de la crème, not least the ability to score goals by the bucketload.

Sixteen goals in 30 matches in his third full season as a pro in Norway earned 'the Manchild' the 2018 Eliteserien Breakthrough of the Year award.

In just under 12 months at his next station, Red Bull Salzburg, he plundered 29 goals in 27 appearances, including five hat-tricks.

Approaching his one-year anniversary in Dortmund colours, Haaland boasts an even better strike rate.

Across 31 competitive assignments in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, German Supercup and UEFA Champions League, the Erlingator has put away some 31 goals. That's 1.06 per game.

A breakdown of those eye-watering numbers underscores just how far ahead of the curve Haaland is.

With three goals in 20 second-half minutes on his Bundesliga debut in Augsburg, Haaland became the German top tier's second-youngest hat-trick scorer, and the division's first substitute debutant to strike three times in one game.

Haaland followed up his debut splash with a brace in the following game against Cologne, making him the first player in Bundesliga history to score five goals in his opening two games. He's also the first to net seven in his first three, eight in his opening five and nine in his maiden six matches.

Twenty-two appearances into his Bundesliga career - the most recent of which was marked with four goals in 33 minutes in a 5-2 win at Hertha Berlin - Haaland has helped himself to 23 goals, breaking German football legend Uwe Seeler's record of scoring 20 times in his first 22 league games.

Lewandowski was 23-and-a-half, and 56 matches into his Bundesliga career when he reached the same tally. A 20-year-old Messi hit that particular mark on his 53rd La Liga outing, while Ronaldo's 23rd English Premier League goal fell three months prior to his 21st birthday, on his 115th appearance.

Watch: All 23 of Erling Haaland's Bundesliga goals so far

Haaland's Champions League exploits paint his apex-predator qualities in a similarly commanding light.

He joined Dortmund as the first player in the competition's history to have found the net with his first four efforts on goal, and with eight strikes in six group games under his belt. He signed off for 2019/20 with a brace in BVB's last-16 first-leg win over eventual runners-up Paris Saint-Germain, taking his debut season tournament tally to 10 goals.

Only Lewandowski - a 15-goal winner with Bayern Munich - scored more.

Four group matches into the 2020/21 edition, Haaland is the one setting the pace with six goals at an average of 1.57 per 90 minutes. Lewandowski and Messi have three; Ronaldo one.

He is already Dortmund's record scorer in the competition, while no player Europe-wide has reached 16 career Champions League goals in fewer games.

Ronaldo - although the Champions League's all-time top scorer - needed 52 games. Messi - second in the charts - took 29. Lewandowski - the newest member of the top three - comes closest of the bunch to Haaland with 16 goals in his first 26 matches.

Scoring week in, week out at the highest level is child's play for the 2020 Golden Boy.

Haaland scored 13 Bundesliga goals during the second half of 2019/20, and is already on double figures eight games into the new campaign. - Blatterspiel/Jan Huebner/imago images

Statistically, Haaland bears all the hall-marks of becoming a generational player.

There's no telling when he will peak - with form and fitness the usual caveats - but chances are he'll be delivering long into his 30s, much in the same vein as Lewandowski, Messi and Ronaldo. UEFA 2020 Best Player Lewandowski, in particular, is showing no signs of slowing down at 32.

Assuming Haaland's 6'4" inch frame holds up and he maintains his razor-sharp focus - the Norway international is an avid meditator and listens to the Champions League anthem in his car - his prolific numbers at 20 suggest he could outstrip the goal-scoring feats of all those before him by some distance.

Chris Mayer-Lodge