Erling Haaland is "destined to be one of the best players in the world" ahead of an anticipated move to Manchester City, says Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch.

A move to the Premier League champions for the Borussia Dortmund striker at the end of the season will reportedly be confirmed this week, ending a prolonged saga of speculation over his future.

Marsch has first-hand experience of working with Haaland, having previously coached the Norway international – who was coincidentally born in Leeds – during their time together at Salzburg.

Speaking ahead of the Whites' clash with Chelsea on Wednesday, the American coach predicted bigger things are to come from Haaland and joked that he should have gone to Elland Road instead.

"Erling Haaland is destined to be one of the best players in the world," Marsch told his pre-match media conference. "It's his quality, but it is also his talent.

"I wish he was coming back home to Leeds... but I understand the decision for him to go to Man City.

"It will be interesting. He's an explosive player in transition and Man City often play a lot in possession. He can play any style of play.

"Certainly, I believe it makes Man City – one of, if not the best team in the world – even better. So credit to them for getting that done.

"I always wish the best for Erling, he's an incredible human being."

Marsch also commented on the tough run his own side now faces to survive in the Premier League, with Leeds' destiny effectively out of their own hands.

Everton are a point ahead with a game in hand while Burnley are level on points, albeit with a vastly superior goal difference, and need only to match the results of their rivals to survive.

"We knew coming into these three matches with City, Arsenal and Chelsea that it was going to be very, very difficult to pick up points," Marsch added.

"So it's proved to be that, just like we knew it was, and we still have so much to play for. So our focus is really on controlling every moment and being prepared for every moment.

"Credit to Burnley and Everton. In a difficult moment they've also fought for their lives and done whatever's possible to claw their way back into this situation, and we'll do the same."

Erling Haaland should head to Arsenal if he is to make a Premier League move this summer, joked Norway team-mate Martin Odegaard.

The Borussia Dortmund striker is expected to bring the curtain down on his stay in the Bundesliga and move to new pastures in the off-season.

Having commanded interest from a host of European heavyweights, it is widely expected that the Leeds-born attacker will choose Manchester City as his next club.

But speaking to Stadium Astro, Odegaard – who skippers the attacker at international level and plays his club football for the Gunners – quipped he should move to the Emirates Stadium instead.

"He is a funny guy," Odegaard said. "He's a good friend of mine and a great player as well. We will see what he will do. I don't know.

"But, if he is coming to England, he needs to come to us of course! No, I don't know what he will do, but he is a great guy.

"To be honest we haven't talked too much about it. I know he has so many people trying to ask him and to tell him what to do, and I don't want to do that. So, we will have to wait and see."

 

Having signed for Dortmund in December 2019, Haaland looks set to end a two-and-a-half-year spell that has seen him establish himself as one of world football's great talents.

The DFB-Pokal winner has endured fitness problems at times this season, managing only 21 games in the Bundesliga.

However, Odegaard has backed him to adapt to life in the Premier League if he comes, adding: "He’s a beast. He is strong, he is fast, and I think he has everything. So, I think he can play in every league, in every country to be honest."

The top organiser of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has hit back at the Norway Football Association following damning criticism by the latter during FIFA's Congress in Doha on Thursday.

Hassan Al Thawadi accused Norwegian FA President Lise Klaveness of inflammatory comments over the country's human rights record ahead of the tournament, which begins in November.

This year's World Cup has been the subject of criticism since it was awarded to Qatar in 2010, with issues ranging from the treatment of migrant workers to the safety of the LGBTQ+ community.

During the 72nd FIFA congress, Klaveness – whose nation failed to qualify last year and had mooted plans to boycott if they did so – launched a blistering argument against its organisers.

"In 2010, the World Cup was awarded by FIFA in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences," she stated.

"Human rights, equality, democracy, the core interests of football, were not in the starting XI until many years later.

"These basic rights were pressured on as substitutes, mainly by outside voices. FIFA has later addressed these issues, but there is still a long way to go.

"There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers, no room for leaders that cannot host the women's game, no room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of LGBTQ+ people coming to this theatre of dreams."

Thawadi, chief executive of the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, refuted his counterpart's suggestions, and accused her of failing to open dialogue over her concerns.

"Madam president, you visit our country and made no request for a meeting," he added. "You did not attempt to contact us and did not attempt to engage in dialogue before addressing Congress today.

"I urge everybody, we have always been open for dialogue. We have always welcomed constructive criticism, criticism that is based on discussion, understanding the issues and understanding the context of the issues and the progress of the facts on the ground.

"We will always have our doors open for anybody who wants to understand the issues, who wants to educate themselves before passing any judgement."

Qatar will host the draw for this year's tournament on April 1, with 29 of the 32 sides set to compete confirmed ahead of final play-offs later this year.

The qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup is all but over.

Some key matches still have to be played, with Wales yet to find out their fate as they wait to face the winner of Scotland's play-off with Ukraine, which has been postponed due to Russia's invasion of the country, while there are inter-confederation play-offs also to be decided.

In total, 28 nations have qualified already, and most of football's star names will be present.

That being said, while France's world champions will bid to defend their crown, Neymar will bring the Brazilian stardust, Lionel Messi will look to build on Argentina's Copa America triumph and Cristiano Ronaldo will feature at a record-equalling fifth tournament, some huge players - and indeed teams, in the case of Italy - will not be present in Qatar.

Stats Perform has looked at some of the star players who will be watching the tournament from home.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Arguably the best player in the world this season, Salah will not be lighting up Qatar with any mazy runs or sensational strikes. Given the tournament is in the middle of next season, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp may secretly be pleased his talisman will not be risking injury or fatigue, but Salah – who blazed his penalty over in the decisive shoot-out against Senegal on Tuesday – will be a big miss.

 

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

A star of the 2014 World Cup, in which he won the golden boot, James Rodriguez scored Colombia's winner against Venezuela on Tuesday, yet Peru's victory over Paraguay meant the ex-Real Madrid playmaker and his team-mates will not appear in Qatar, where James currently plies his trade for Al-Rayyan.

Luis Diaz, who has made a flying start to life at Liverpool since joining from Porto in January, is another Colombian talent who will be watching on from the sidelines.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

The hero of Italy's Euro 2020 triumph with his saves in the penalty shoot-out victory over England last July, Donnarumma – one of Europe's best goalkeepers – will be watching on from afar along with the rest of Roberto Mancini's players. After his error in Paris Saint-Germain's capitulation against Madrid in the Champions League, March has been a sour month for the 23-year-old.

Georgio Chiellini (Italy)

While Donnarumma has time on his side to make it to the next World Cup, the same cannot be said for Giorgio Chiellini. The centre-back is 37 and will surely not be featuring at another major tournament for Italy now.

Defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci may also fall into that category, given he turns 35 in May, while 29-year-old playmaker Marco Verratti may also have seen his final chance of appearing at the World Cup for a second time dashed.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

It was the battle of two of Europe's leading marksmen of the last decade on Tuesday, as Poland went head-to-head with Sweden, and it was Robert Lewandowski and Co. who came out on top, winning 2-0.

Bayern Munich star Lewandowski opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and though Ibrahimovic came on as a late substitute, he could not turn the tide in Sweden's favour. The Milan striker has suggested he wants to carry on playing for his country, but at 40, surely this was his last chance of appearing at a World Cup.

Erling Haaland (Norway)

Although Ibrahimovic may be approaching the tail-end of his career, Haaland is certainly not. Yet like the Swede, the Borussia Dortmund forward will not be playing in Qatar either.

Indeed, even if Norway had made it through their qualification group, it is uncertain as to whether or not the players would have chosen to boycott the tournament, having previously made their feelings on Qatar's human rights record clear. But they finished third in Group G anyway.

Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard is another bright Norweigian talent, though the Scandinavian nation may well fancy their chances heading towards Euro 2024 and the 2026 World Cup.

 

David Alaba (Austria)

Madrid defender Alaba could not inspire Austria to victory in their play-off clash with Wales, with Gareth Bale's double doing the damage. After a glittering career with Bayern, Alaba is on course to win LaLiga with Los Blancos, but any form of real, tangible success on the international stage looks set to avoid him.

Jan Oblak (Slovenia)

Oblak's form has dipped this season for Atletico Madrid but on his day he is still right up there among the world's best goalkeepers, though he could not help Slovenia finish higher than fourth in their qualification group, as their wait to qualify for a first World Cup since 2010 rolled on.

Ada Hegerberg has ended a five-year exodus from the Norway national team after the Lyon striker was named in Martin Sjogren's squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers.

The 26-year-old has not played for her country since 2017, having made herself unavailable since then in a dispute over the progression of the women's game back home.

During that period, Hegerberg has become the Women's Champions League all-time top scorer and won the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or in December 2018.

She controversially sat out Norway's last World Cup campaign, at France 2019, as the Grasshoppers were knocked out by England in the quarter-finals.

Since then, Hegerberg has also endured the best part of two years out of action with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

But with Norway preparing for the rearranged Euro 2021 tournament in England and next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the striker has made herself available once more.

"Go Norway," the forward tweeted, complete with the Norwegian flag, on Thursday, shortly after the Norges Fotballforbund (NFF) had confirmed the squad.

Norway sit top of their UEFA qualifying group, and will play Kosovo and Poland next month.

Erling Haaland must move on from Borussia Dortmund to take his game to the next level, according to former Bayern Munich defender Patrik Andersson.

Haaland joined Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20 million release clause in December 2019.

Since then, the 21-year-old has registered 50 goals in as many games in the German top flight, netting 1.12 times on average per 90 minutes.

Indeed, since the Norway international's Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020, only Robert Lewandowski (98) has scored more than Haaland (71) among players from Europe's top five leagues across all competitions.

But Andersson, who racked up over 200 Bundesliga appearances across spells with Bayern and Borussia Monchengladbach, believes Haaland must move on to further his game.

Asked to compare Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Haaland, two-time Bundesliga winner Andersson told Stats Perform: "First of all, it was a question about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Halaand and talking about taking the next step to reach the next level. 

"You should never compare such good players because both of them are unique in their own way. Haaland is just at the beginning of a great career and Zlatan is at the other end. 

"But I think, what is football about? It's about winning, winning titles and he's had a really good development at Dortmund but personally, I think he needs to move to reach the next level. 

"When you play, for instance, for Sweden or Norway, you're not in the position to maybe win the World Cup or a European Championship, so for him winning big titles and maybe by moving to another league he could reach this little level."

 

Haaland has already reached a level above most of those at his age, given no other player has reached the 50-goal Bundesliga milestone in as few appearances or at such a young age (21 years, four months and six days).

Andersson appreciates the quality of the former Molde striker but believes he must find a team and coach befitting of his own personality to kick-on and reach the summit of world football.

"I think from his quality he is technically there, he's really strong, he's fast, he scores goals, he sets up players, but it's more about finding a really good team [and] surroundings," he continued.

"For him as a young player also, [it is important] to have a coach who really relies on him, to give him confidence, pushing him, so not so much talking about leagues."

Louis van Gaal feared the Netherlands would blow their chance to secure automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

The Netherlands wrapped up top spot in Group G on Tuesday after a cagey 2-0 victory over Norway thanks to late goals from Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay.

Netherlands head coach Van Gaal had suffered a fall from a bike and injured his hip ahead of the game so was forced to watch the match from the stands in a wheelchair.

Van Gaal cut a nervous figure as Danny Blind relayed his instructions via telephone on the touchline in a fixture played without any fans at De Kuip due to growing coronavirus cases.

Despite a tense game, the Netherlands got the job done as their stubborn defence – which has conceded just eight goals in qualifying – stood firm.

The Netherlands are now unbeaten in seven matches since Euro 2020, winning five times.

"The mood was a bit down the day after [the draw with] Montenegro, then I was afraid that it might go completely wrong," Van Gaal told NOS Journaal.

"But all in all it was a fantastic week despite everything. We got to know each other through lows and highs.

"We scored two goals today, and Jasper Cillessen kept a clean sheet. We dominated and controlled the game for 90 minutes. Norway may have had half a chance.

“I complimented the team at half-time, but also told them to play a little more forward.

"We played provocative pressing in the second half, which gave us a little more space. And of course we have the attackers for that."

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk made a team-high four clearances, two tackles and won 88.9 per cent of his duels as Norway failed to register a single shot on target.

The Liverpool defender spoke of his excitement at potentially playing at his first major international tournament, having missed out on the rescheduled Euro 2020 earlier this year through injury.

"We are going to Qatar and it's well deserved, we almost didn't give anything away. In my opinion, nothing at all," said Van Dijk.

"We had to show a reaction after last Saturday and we did. Of course there are many things that could be improved, but the result was the most important.

“I am extremely proud of this team. It can be tricky to play around with the idea that any mistake can be fatal, but we've embraced it. 

"We showed real character, it was not easy to switch quickly after the 2-2 in Montenegro, but we did it.

"I was very sorry that the national coach was there from a distance and the fans were not there at all. We're going to celebrate well inside. I can't wait for the World Cup."

Louis van Gaal feared the Netherlands would blow their chance to secure automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

The Oranje wrapped up top spot in Group G on Tuesday after a cagey 2-0 victory over Norway thanks to late goals from Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay.

Head coach Van Gaal had suffered a fall from a bike and injured his hip ahead of the game so was forced to watch the match from the stands in a wheelchair.

He cut a nervous figure as Danny Blind relayed his instructions via telephone on the touchline in a fixture played without any fans at De Kuip.

Despite a tense game the Netherlands got the job done as their stubborn defence – which has conceded just eight goals in qualifying – stood firm.

The Netherlands are now unbeaten in seven matches since the European Championships, winning five times.

"The mood was a bit down the day after [the draw with] Montenegro, then I was afraid that it might go completely wrong," Van Gaal told NOS Journaal.

"But all in all it was a fantastic week despite everything. We got to know each other through lows and highs.

"We scored two goals today, and Jasper Cillessen kept a clean sheet. We dominated and controlled the game for 90 minutes. Norway may have had half a chance.

“I complimented the team at half-time, but also told them to play a little more forward.

"We played provocative pressing in the second half, which gave us a little more space. And of course we have the attackers for that."

Netherlands skipper Virgil van Dijk made a team high four clearances, two tackles and won 88.9 per cent of his duels as Norway failed to register a single shot on target.

The Liverpool defender spoke of his excitement at potentially playing at his first major international tournament, having missed out on the rescheduled. Euro 2020 earlier this year through injury.

"We are going to Qatar and it's well deserved, we almost didn't give anything away. In my opinion, nothing at all," said the Liverpool defender.

"We had to show a reaction after last Saturday and we did. Of course there are many things that could be improved, but the result was the most important.

“I am extremely proud of this team. It can be tricky to play around with the idea that any mistake can be fatal, but we've embraced it. 

"We showed real character, it was not easy to switch quickly after the 2-2 in Montenegro, but we did it.

"I was very sorry that the national coach was there from a distance and the fans were not there at all. We're going to celebrate well inside. I can't wait for the World Cup."

Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay made sure of the Netherlands' place at the 2022 World Cup with late goals in a 2-0 victory against Norway on Tuesday.

Turkey's 2-1 win against Montenegro kept the pressure on the Netherlands, but they still needed only a point to secure their qualification and got more than that in the closing stages at De Kuip.

Bergwijn netted with six minutes left when he fired high into the net before Depay put the result beyond doubt with a goal on the break in injury time.

While the Oranje finished as Group G winners, Norway slipped to third and missed out on a place in the play-offs having failed to register a shot on target across the entire contest.

Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal insisted his "brain still works" following a bike accident left him temporarily in a wheelchair.

Van Gaal suffered a hip injury after falling off his bicycle on Sunday and oversaw Monday's training session from a golf buggy ahead of the Netherlands' crucial World Cup qualifier against Norway.

The Netherlands require at least a draw from their Group G decider on Tuesday to clinch a berth at Qatar 2022.

Van Gaal, who will be able to coach his nation when the Netherlands and Norway clash in Rotterdam, was keen to stress his brain remains intact following the incident.

"Physically, I'm bad. But my brain still works," former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss Van Gaal told reporters via video link.

Asked if it hurt a lot, Van Gaal replied: "Yes, a lot. That's why I'm in a wheelchair. That's why I led the training session from my buggy.

"Look, it's the lesser trochanter, that’s a bone, and that's broken. And the iliopsoas, that’s a muscle, is attached to that. That's a stabilising muscle. I hope you can all understand what I'm saying.

"I had to learn about every single bone in the human body when I used to study for gymnastics teacher. That comes in handy now."

"I can do everything, because my brain works. There are things I can use, such as that buggy and my wheelchair. I look stupid, I know that too," the 70-year-old added. "But coaching is verbal, and you use your brain to do so. And the presentation has to convince the squad."

Netherlands star Virgil van Dijk added: "It's just sad and unfortunate for him. He now has to recover the next weeks.

"It's a physical thing, luckily it's not mental. He is still focused on reaching the World Cup, like we all are."

The Netherlands missed the chance to seal qualification for the 2022 World Cup as Montenegro produced a late comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Memphis Depay had Group G leaders the Netherlands on track before Montenegro overturned the two-goal deficit.

The Netherlands will now look to clinch against a Norway side missing injured superstar Erling Haaland.

Van Gaal acknowledged Haaland's absence changes the dynamic of the fixture.

"Haaland has the quality to always show up behind a defence," Van Gaal said. "He also did so in their home game against us, three of four times. That were also their only chances.

"Now, they'll have to find another solution. At least, that's what they'll be trying to do. But Haaland has specific qualities that they'll miss now. We can, in principal, play a bit further from our own goal now too."

The Netherlands will have to do without the injured Stefan de Vrij when they face Norway in a decisive World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

De Vrij suffered a hamstring injury in the closing stages of the Oranje's 2-2 away to Montenegro on Saturday and was replaced by Matthijs de Ligt.

The Inter centre-back has now been ruled out of the Netherlands' final Group G game against third-placed Norway at De Kuip, so De Ligt is set to starting alongside captain Virgil van Dijk.

Coach Louis van Gaal has not called up a replacement for De Vrij.

The Netherlands lead Norway and Turkey – who are away to Montenegro on Tuesday – by two points, and a draw should be enough for them to qualify for the tournament in Qatar next year due to their far superior goal difference.

It appeared to be mission accomplished for the group leaders when Memphis Depay's double put them in control at Podgorica City Stadium, but late goals from Ilija Vukotic and Nikola Vujnovic prevented them from getting the job done.

The Netherlands will not have the backing of a partisan crowd against Norway, as the game in Rotterdam will be played behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips as Europe's elite try to get their hands on the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

Haaland is already on the cusp of half a century of Bundesliga goals, having scored 49 in 49 league appearances since swapping Salzburg for Dortmund in January 2020.

It is a remarkable return – the 21-year-old has 70 goals in 69 games for the German club overall, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland has always been a goalscorer.

Born in Leeds in 2000, where his father Alf-Inge played for Leeds United in the Premier League at the time, Erling relocated to Bryne by the age of three – the hometown of his parents in Norway.

It is there where Erling Haaland took his first steps in football.

Alf Ingve Berntsen spent more than eight years coaching Haaland, including several matches for Byrne's first team in 2016 following the sudden departure of Gaute Larsen.

"He was the best from the first day. Scoring a lot, smiling a lot, training a lot," Berntsen told Stats Perform as he recalled Haaland's time at Byrne, where the pair worked together between the ages of eight to 16.

 

Haaland was part of a group of 40 talented youngsters coached by Berntsen at Bryne.

But Haaland – even playing with older kids – always stood out in a city with a population of just over 12,200 people on the southern shores of the lake Froylandsvatnet.

"A player of that level, you can spot the class from the first day… the first day you spot something special like Erling, one way or another. You can see it from the beginning," Berntsen said.

"In Norway we have a few big clubs who have academies and select best ones from a region. But most of the clubs, they have a big grassroots path. Our club is like that – part of is like a top club but a big part is grassroots. Often we try to hold them together.

"Erling was one of 40 players who trained together, in fact until they were 15. That was the first year we separated them. Erling was one year younger than the others because he was too good for his age group. He was 14. Twenty of them wanted to train four times a week and 20 wanted to train twice a week. Even then we kept them together. In that group, Erling was quite a normal guy. Funny and a desire to train and win. He was the best from the first day. Scoring a lot, smiling a lot, training a lot. He was quite similar to how he is today."

"He was quite average size but because he trained with older boys, he lacked a bit in his height. He wasn't small in size but he was skinny, very skinny," Berntsen said. "He had his growth spurt when he was 14-15. Until then, he was normal height. From 14 he started to grow very quick. He kept growing until we went to Molde. When you stop growing, it's time to develop your muscles. It's not always wise to do much building your muscles when you're growing. We knew this would happen because his family, his older brother, he is fast and strong, we knew when he was 11-12 that we had to wait some years, this was something special in the making."

After a brief period with Byrne's senior team, Haaland was lured to Molde in 2017 and after 20 goals in 50 appearances overall, the Norwegian was eventually lured to Salzburg two years later.

Haaland dazzled with Austrian giants Salzburg, scoring an absurd 29 goals in only 27 games across all competitions – he joined Alessandro del Piero, Sergei Rebrov, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewandowski as the only players to score in the first five matches of a Champions League group stage, while becoming the first teenager to achieve the feat.

He also scored nine times for Norway's Under-20 team in a 12-0 rout of Honduras at the 2019 U20 World Cup. Haaland did not see out a season at Salzburg, prised to Dortmund in January last year and he has not looked back.

In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

"He is very similar to now to when he was 11-12. He scores a lot. In that group, if there were 40 players, many of them were of good quality. Ten of the players with Erling, nine other players played in the region team. Four of them later came into the Under-18 national team. Erling had to conquer each training session, to win. He didn't have it always easy," Berntsen said.

"The personality and quality you see is quite similar. When he played with two defenders, they played for Norway U18 - they are strong and powerful. If he had to score in the training session, he had to be smart in his movement. Quite early he developed the smartness, the tactical ability. The whole of the group trained much outside the main session - in the indoor hall, hour after hour having fun. He gained very good technical skills.

"His mental skills were strong early. He was always more willing to win. The technical and mental part were very good. He lacked a bit physically. We knew to wait some years and this might explode. The personality, desire and passion is just what it was earlier."

 

"When he moved up to us, because of the quality of the group, he didn't have to be too high on his self because it wasn't too easy," Berntsen continued on Haaland's attitude and character. "We didn't know if we were going to lose or win in training.

"This is a small place where 12,000 live. everyone knows each other. He had to develop with no media around. It was a good place for him. No big attention. He had to train and develop without any disturbance because if you are in a big city and club, you can have a lot of attention and it isn't so easy. But here he could train with his friends and develop steady. His father had played in the Premier League, so in this area everyone knew who he was."

Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

While Berntsen predicted a great career, not even he could have envisaged the speed of Haaland's rise to the top amid links with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

"I didn't see that at this age that he would become top scorer in the Champions League like he did or score in each match at this level. But we're not surprised that he is doing well," Berntsen said.

"When he got the first possibility to play in the regions team, he was picked then the national team, you can play from 15, and he was picked and scored. He always kept scoring at a new level. At a time when he lacked a bit physically. We knew he would become strong and fast. Of course we didn't see that level at that early age. But many of us, we were quite sure he was going to have a good international career, from 12 years old."

He added: "When you're 21, the body isn't fully grown yet. It can develop in all aspects of the game but it's not too easy now because the level he is on is high already. But when you're trying on a daily basis, you train to get better. If you do that, you'll have a small percentage of growth.

"He is one of the new rising stars that can do a lot of different - high pressure, low pressure, he can run, smart in the box, quite good in offence and defence. The next generation of players will have that variety - not just one type on top. He can be a front man or in counter-attacks. That might be common in the future. You have quite good variants in quality. There are still things for him to develop."

Prior to matchday-three fixtures in the Champions League, only Lewandowski had scored more goals and a higher xG-value across all competitions in the top-five leagues this season than Haaland.

Dating back to his switch from Salzburg in 2020, Haaland eclipsed his xG-value in his Champions league performances by 4.1 – the highest value of a player in the Champions League in this time prior to the club's 4-0 rout at the hands of Ajax.

While only Lewandowski has been involved in more Champions League open-play sequences that ended in a goal than Haaland since the latter's transfer to Germany (before Dortmund and Bayern's fixtures this week).

When asked where Haaland – who has a return of 12 goals in 15 international appearances for Norway – would be best suited if he were to leave Dortmund, Berntsen replied: "There's not so many possibilities now. There may be a few clubs who can afford him. It's not for everyone.

"Erling and his family, they've done a brilliant job to select the next level. If he stays in Dortmund, if he was to end his career there, still he had a brilliant career because he's a funny guy from a little town. 

"Erling is down to earth. If you have a job and have big defenders knocking you down, you have to make a statement and prove yourself. He is a loveable guy and we are proud of him. Humble. If you asked me a year ago, I'd say maybe Spain or England but Spain or France now."

Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose asked to ease the pressure on Erling Haaland and let him recover from a thigh injury amid question marks over his availability for Norway ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.

Haaland was absent again as Dortmund defeated Augsburg 2-1 in the Bundesliga thanks to goals from Raphael Guerreiro and Julian Brandt on Saturday.

Dortmund sensation Haaland also missed last weekend's defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach and the Champions League victory over Sporting CP on Tuesday.

As Norway prepare for qualifiers against Turkey (October 8) and Montenegro (October 11) on the road to Qatar 2022, Rose stressed that both the national team and Dortmund need the 21-year-old forward back.

"It is not my job to finish someone's hope," Rose said following the victory over Augsburg. "All I can tell you about is the status quo. Erling has been trying to play for days now. Who knows him also knows that he always wants to play.

"He didn't make it for the Champions League. It started in Gladbach and didn't work today. And he told me very timely 'Manager, I would love to play, but I can't move the way I want to. I can't even walk'. 

"This is the status quo we are working with, and I think it would be clever if we could all stop speculating. I understand the Norwegian federation. He is a human being, not a machine. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We have to get him healthy for Borussia Dortmund but also for the Norway national team.

"We had two games without him now and at the moment, things don't look good for Norway either. This is also what Erling says, and we should release the pressure and not ask about his status every day. We should let him recover."

Haaland has scored 68 goals in 67 appearances for Dortmund since arriving from Salzburg in January 2020.

The in-demand Dortmund star opened the season by scoring 11 goals across seven games in all competitions.

Without Haaland, Dortmund recorded their eighth straight Bundesliga home triumph as Marco Reus teed up Brandt for the 51st-minute winner.

Dortmund captain Reus is the third Bundesliga player since detailed data collection to assist 100 goals in competitive matches after Thomas Muller (176) and Franck Ribery (132).

Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga, a point behind rivals Bayern Munich, who are due to host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has welcomed Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Jude Bellingham out of England's latest squad.

Teenage midfielder Bellingham was a surprise omission from Southgate's 23-man group on Thursday after impressing for Dortmund in his second campaign at the club.

Southgate explained he left out the 18-year-old due to fears of burnout, with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood overlooked for the same reason.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

Since making his Dortmund debut on September 14 last year, the Birmingham City academy product has played 56 matches, 43 of those coming from the start.

Rose is therefore grateful that the youngster will be given a chance to rest up.

"I think it's a good decision," Rose said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's Bundesliga clash with Augsburg. "The reason is obvious to me.

"In spite of his capabilities, he is an 18-year-old and has very little rest. We have to take care of the boys and not burn them out. That's why I welcome the decision."

 

Bellingham's team-mate Erling Haaland will play no part in Saturday's visit of Augsburg as he continues to recover from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of the last two games.

Haaland has been named in Norway's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro, but Rose revealed the striker will not link up with his national side.

"We're going to keep him here for the time being and make the best possible use of the time," Rose said.

"He's asked every day when he can return, so the rest will do him good. He's going to stay here for the time being."

The loss of Haaland for another game will be a major blow for Dortmund, as he has scored 68 goals in 67 games since making his debut in January 2020.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, with 86 goals in 71 games in all competitions, has scored more times during that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund have won their past three Bundesliga home matches against Augsburg, with their only defeat in the last 10 meetings coming in February 2015. 

Louis van Gaal has warned his Netherlands side that they still have some way to go before they can consider themselves "top of the world".

The Oranje drew 1-1 with Norway in World Cup qualifying Group G on Wednesday in Van Gaal's first match back in his third spell as coach of his country.

Erling Haaland opened the scoring at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.

The result leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.

Van Gaal was not happy with his side's display and urged them to be more creative.

"We may think that this Dutch team is the top of the world, but it is not," he told NOS. "We have to function as a team. Norway has played very well as a team. Then you have to show the creativity that we lacked today.

"We lost the ball too carelessly in situations that we didn't have to. That is because the opposing team has defended in a very compact space. Then it is not so easy. Then you have to be very creative and firm on the ball, but we were not.

"I think Norway did a fantastic job. We were careless and that should not have been allowed, but that is also due to Norway's playing style.

"We have to make sure that we can play the ball around. I also said that at half-time we had to show courage and wait for the moment that we could play in depth, but we didn't succeed."

Van Gaal opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Steven Berghuis and full debutant Cody Gakpo starting either side of Memphis Depay in attack.

Berghuis was replaced by Donyell Malen at half-time following a disappointing opening 45 minutes that saw the Ajax man fail to register a shot on goal.

Van Gaal was less than impressed by his side's wide players, but insists it is too early to abandon the formation.

"I think it's going too far to say after one game that we can't play 4-3-3," he added.

"That has to do with the form of the day of the players. But I said in advance that we are meagre at the outsides. That has become apparent today.

"If you are careless, you will not reach the goal.

"Working with young people keeps me young, that's why I like it. Also the tension of the competition. Too bad the execution was not so good."

The Netherlands are in action again on Saturday when they host Montenegro. 

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