What FPL managers can expect from new Man City forward Erling Haaland

FPL Thinker is a regular Fantasy Bundesliga player, finishing fourth overall in 2021/22.

As a result, he has watched Haaland closely during his time at Borussia Dortmund, and here, shares his thoughts on the Norwegian and what his involvement at Manchester City might mean for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers.


Few players burst onto the scene like Erling Haaland, and he has since gone on to become one of the rising stars in world football. 

Haaland first came into prominence when he scored nine goals against Honduras in the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup, but it was his performances for RB Salzburg in the Champions League that put him on the map on a world stage. The Norwegian international was able to contribute to nine goals in the group stage against the likes of Napoli and then-defending champions Liverpool.

His exceptional numbers in the Austrian Bundesliga (22 goals and assists in 14 games) alongside his record in the Champions League forced Salzburg to part ways for a measly £18m in January 2020. The striker has gone on to hit even bigger heights scoring 62 goals and producing 16 assists in 67 games for Borussia Dortmund.

2021/22 SEASON

Haaland made a spectacular start to the 2021/22 season, scoring twice and providing three assists to thrash Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt. However, following a run of braces in successive matches, he then got sidelined with a muscular injury. This injury kept plaguing him throughout the season and he wasn’t able to complete a run of 10 matches back-to-back. Despite that, whenever he played, he made an impact and led Dortmund to victory from the jaws of defeat. He finished on 22 goals for the season, in second behind Robert Lewandowski, whilst playing fewer games than the Polish striker.


Haaland’s game is built on his two greatest strengths: movement and finishing which helps him to be a top-class goalscorer. His off the ball work is phenomenal, while he is also involved in Dortmund’s build-up play, holding the ball and setting up runners from midfield with accurate passes.

His trademark position is parking himself between two opposition defenders and being on their shoulder. This allows him to run into the box by making a blindside run into the channel – usually on the left. He happily comes deep to collect the ball to help his team build play, often looking to spread the ball wide for a teammate, before turning and sprinting towards goal.


Man City generally line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with a back-four of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo, a three-man midfield of Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, with Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez up front. Haaland will come into the team as the central focal point and would help City in breaking down opposition defences. 

In games where the opposition employs a high press, Haaland will drop deep thereby creating space behind the opponents’ defence. The inverted full-backs will move into the midfield which would open up spaces for creative players like De Bruyne to play a through pass behind the defensive line. Haaland with his exceptional speed and ability to time the run would be able to latch on to the through ball and finish effectively. Haaland’s height and physique will also allow Ederson to play long balls out of defence which he can hold up and then bring midfielders and wingers into play which is absent with City’s current false nine formation.


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Pep Guardiola hasn’t had the best of times playing a target man in his team as was the case with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edin Dzeko to name a few. However, his most successful spell came when he worked with Lewandowski in Bayern Munich. So that provides a reference on how he could set the team up. In his three seasons Bayern scored 94, 80 and 80 goals respectively. Muller playing behind the target man scored 13 goals and provided 10 assists, while Robben scored 17 goals playing from the right-wing. 

Most of Haaland’s goals and shots have come from the left in Dortmund and we know most of City’s attacking play arrives down that side which indicates that assets like Cancelo and Foden could benefit. City are one of the cross-heavy teams in the league and players like De Bruyne, Mahrez and Cancelo who provide the crosses would be able to supply the Norwegian.

In my opinion, the players who will benefit most are as follows:

  • Cancelo
  • De Bruyne
  • Foden
  • Mahrez
  • Sterling

Though most of Haaland’s attributes lend itself to the way City play, he is in the bottom 24% of forwards for pressing in the top five leagues in Europe, whereas City are the second-highest pressers. Haaland’s general passing is low compared to other forwards and especially compared to City’s false nine. These are the attributes Pep will look to improve. 

With age on his side and working with one of the best tactical managers in the game, playing at one of the most attacking teams in Europe, Haaland’s move to City could turn out to be a match made in heaven.

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