The World Cup is an absurd measure of Erling Haaland’s greatness

Erling Haaland’s impact at Manchester City has definitely been there: demand for tickets is skyrocketing.

Even club staff are finding it difficult to get match tickets and the hospitality boxes have been snapped up by the end of the season. After record summer shirt sales and social media figures, this should come as no surprise.

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Ever since he signed everyone has wanted a glimpse of the big Norwegian striker and his impressive start to life on the pitch has added to that level of intrigue.

With 18 goals in 13 games, he is also threatening to break the Premier League goalscoring records and has been unstoppable in most of his matches.

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The big question, as domestic football returns, is how each club will be affected by the World Cup break. In City’s case, it will be whether they rocket to the title – and perhaps the Champions League – as most spectators expected before Qatar, despite Arsenal’s dominance so far.

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How far can Holland go? And with the World Cup just behind us, that conversation takes on a different meaning.

Erling Holland, Manchester City

Striker Holland has taken the Premier League by storm as he seamlessly emulated his impressive form at Borussia Dortmund (Image: Sean Bottrell/Getty Images)

His emergence over the past few seasons, particularly his start to life in the Premier League, means the Hollander is firmly placed in the bracket of future Ballon d’Or winner and the game’s next superstar — Kylan With Mbappe.

Football has been searching for the heirs of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the best part of a decade, the time they have spent at the top, but Neymar, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, among others, have never had it. Could not follow. Perhaps there is a lesson there.

Now that Messi has a World Cup to his name there can be no point in watching: it was always unfair to compare anyone to him but now he has no chance.

Because, as Juanma Lillo pointed out in her recent column. athletic, Winning the World Cup is the most important thing.

“With what he has done on the football pitch, why would he need some penalty to go in, or save Emiliano Martinez?” Lulu asked.

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And of course he’s right: after all these years, all those goals and more than anything else, the moments of magic and joy, why a game — whether a final or a losing quarterfinal — should define anything. ?

Whatever the reason, the World Cup is the ultimate rubber stamp. At least for now.

So what does this mean for the Netherlands? If Norway manage to qualify for the first time since 1998, they will be 26 for what will be their first World Cup in 2026.

Using the World Cup to judge these things is clearly a poor practice as Pele has a mountain of goals, spectacular moments and Three World Cup (and 20 others have two). Pele has always been and always will be in the “GOAT” debate – except last week, apparently, which shows how subjective and fleeting these things are.

So how do we measure greatness? It’s clearly not just what players win, but how they do it and how they make us feel. Messi united fans around the world for Sunday’s final, something that can never be taken away from him, whatever the result. How many players can do this?

“Kylan has healthy ambitions,” former France striker David Trezeguet said of Holland’s other new kid on the block. “He wants to be better than Messi. That’s his motivation.”

This is obviously a very subjective proposition but is it even possible for Mbappe to be better than Messi? Even if he won more World Cups and more Ballon d’Ors? If he scored more goals, would we, the football public, decide that he is the greatest, the way we have done with Messi?

What does “better” mean anyway, if Pele’s three World Cups aren’t enough?

Mbappe is already 24 years old. “Already” is a strange word to use for someone who is, by any measure, a young footballer who has won one World Cup, and scored a hat-trick in another World Cup final. He is a truly remarkable player and it is terrifying to imagine what he will be able to achieve for club and country over the next decade.

But “already” is the word because Messi was “already” a global favorite in 2011 at the age of 24. We can talk for ages about the Ballon d’Or won or the trophies won with Barcelona, ​​but if this past month has taught us anything about greatness and how we perceive it, it’s that It has more than merit and silverware. Emotions put these achievements into context and while Messi can fall back on goals, assists, individual awards and every team trophy you could ever want to win, he has always had something.

Erling Holland, Norway

Holland has scored 21 goals in 23 games for Norway, but his nation have not qualified for the World Cup since 1998 (Photo: Serdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Messi’s failure to reach popularity, let alone his goalscoring heights and medal haul, is not a failure at all. In the same way that Messi didn’t need to win the World Cup to prove anything to anyone, the fact that he did, doesn’t diminish what Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, has achieved in his career.

Ronaldo is also loved by millions around the world, but even he – with all his goals (even more than Messi) and trophies – cannot match the Argentine for that little something extra: magic and emotion. And that was before Doha.

And so where does all this leave Holland, who is 18 months younger than Mbappe but two World Cups behind? Even if he meets Norway next time – which could be easy as there are 12 more spots up for grabs – the Frenchman is very likely to get closer to the trophy.

This discussion sums up the folly of looking at things through the lens of the World Cup. Right or wrong, Messi’s win may have ended the debate for good and to join him, Pele and Diego Maradona are surely now unimaginably high.

Ironically, everyone would have stopped using international football as a yardstick within a week when club football was firmly back on the agenda. It wasn’t long ago that Mbappe was toiling away in Paris and facing fallout rumors while Haaland’s City exploits had him all the rage.

The way Holland has fueled a frenzy in Manchester shows he is on his way to greatness without thinking about trophies and the Ballon d’Or. He has all the goals and numbers and is in a team where he can make them count, but more importantly, he is the type of player who ignites the emotions of those who watch him. And not only plays for fans of this club.

It’s a rare gift in football, and even though the World Cup final was a fairytale ending for Messi and millions around the world — and even though Mbappe showed he can deliver even more magic in the years to come. Will — Haaland should soon remind us that he’s not the only one.

(Top photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images)


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