Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland believes karma played a role in his duel with Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, insisting "I scored when he didn't cheat" in the absorbing Champions League last-16 clash.

History-making Haaland netted a brace as Dortmund drew 2-2 with LaLiga visitors Sevilla on Tuesday but advanced to the quarter-finals 5-4 on aggregate.

Haaland became the quickest player to 20 Champions League goals after reaching the milestone in his 14th game in the competition.

The 20-year-old broke the record after scoring a 54th-minute penalty – the in-demand Norway forward celebrating in the face of Bounou following the retaken spot-kick.

Bounou had saved the initial penalty but play was pulled back after he left his line and Haaland made no mistake from 12 yards second time around.

Haaland savoured the moment post-match after the pair exchanged taunts at Signal Iduna Park.

"I missed and then he cheated. So then I took it again and then I scored when he didn't cheat," Haaland said.

"When he was screaming in my face after the first one, I was thinking, oh, it'll be even better to score another goal. And, yeah, that's what happened. So it was nice."

Haaland added: "I think it's karma."

Aged 20 years and 231 days, Haaland also became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches, while he is the first player in the history of the competition to score at least two goals in four consecutive appearances.

Led by Haaland, Dortmund will now feature in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2016-17 after eliminating the Europa League holders.

"To be in the next round feels very big," Haaland said. "We knew they were going to come at us very hard, but when we scored they needed three."

Erling Haaland has become the quickest player to 20 Champions League goals after reaching the milestone in his 14th game in the competition.

The Norwegian grabbed his 19th and 20th goals in Europe's premier cup competition to help Borussia Dortmund carve out a 2-0 lead over Sevilla in the second leg of the sides' last-16 tie.

That ensured he comfortably surpassed Harry Kane's previous record, which he set by scoring 20 times in his first 24 games in the Champions League.

Dortmund's meeting with Sevilla also saw Haaland become the first player ever to score twice in four consecutive games in the tournament.

The 20-year-old began his streak by netting twice in back-to-back fixtures against Club Brugge in the group stages.

And, after repeating the feat against Sevilla in Spain, he once again put Julien Lopetegui's side to the sword at Signal Iduna Park.

Barcelona prospect  Ilaix Moriba could be tempted away from the Catalan giants.

Ilaix, 18, made headlines with a goal in his third LaLiga appearance for the Blaugrana on Saturday.

But Barca have limited wage capacity and Ilaix has received "several offers".

 

TOP STORY – SEVERAL OFFERS FOR BARCA TEENAGER

Teenager Moriba has become instant hot property with "several offers" to tempt him away from Barcelona, according to Marca.

The Guinea-born midfielder's agent, whom he shares with Gareth Bale, is in drawn-out discussions with the club, the publication says.

Marca's report does not identify who the potential suitors are, but if Ilaix continues a breakout season, the interest will inevitably grow, giving the player and his representatives more bargaining power.

Manchester United were earlier this week linked with the youngster in Mundo Deportivo.

The Champions League round-of-16 second legs get underway on Tuesday, with Porto and Borussia Dortmund holding the upper hand over Juventus and Sevilla respectively.

Juve's latest bid to bring their domestic dominance to bear on the European stage is hanging by a thread, with Sergio Conceicao's robust side arriving in Turin 2-1 to the good.

If that tie is on a knife edge, Dortmund's task looks slightly more straightforward on paper – their 3-2 first-leg win having come on the road at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

However, Edin Terzic's side might be wounded by their sapping Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich at the weekend and Sevilla boast formidable European pedigree. Stranger things have definitely happened.

So, to help you navigate the potential madness, we take a closer look at both matches using Opta data.

 

Juventus (1) v (2) Porto: Ronaldo aiming to break the shackles

On his return to his homeland, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo found himself unusually frustrated during the first leg.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner managed just one shot – his lowest return in a Champions League knockout match since he failed to register a shot on goal during the second leg of the 2010-11 semi-final between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, Federico Chiesa's crucial late away goal at the Estadio do Dragao snapped a run of five consecutive clean sheets in this season's competition for Porto, who are looking to achieve three consecutive shutouts on the road for the first time since November 2012.

Nevertheless, history is still weighted against the Primeira Liga club finishing the job.

Porto are winless in their previous 13 away games in the Champions League knockout stages, drawing four and losing nine.

You have to go back to a 3-2 win over Milan in 1996 for their most recent victory in Italy, with five defeats on the spin since then.

On the other hand, Juventus have been eliminated on five of the past six occasions they lost the first leg of a Champions League tie.

The exception came when a Ronaldo hat-trick wiped out Atletico Madrid's 2-0 advantage two seasons ago.

Once again, the 36-year-old looks their most likely hero. Ronaldo has 10 goals in 10 Champions League games for Juve at the Allianz Stadium. Only Lionel Messi (14) has more home goals over the period from the start of the 2018-19 campaign onwards.

 

Borussia Dortmund (3) v (2) Sevilla: Haaland at the double again?

Erling Haaland is at the opposite end of his Champions League journey to Ronaldo but certainly seems to have designs on emulating some of the veteran's great deeds and might even breach new ground this week.

The Dortmund striker has scored a brace in each of his past three Champions League appearances. If he nets another double against Sevilla, he will become the first player in the history of the competition to score twice in four consecutive appearances.

Haaland has 18 goals in 13 Champions League outings overall and appears certain to surpass Harry Kane as the quickest man to 20 in terms of games. The England captain reached the landmark in his 24th appearance.

Dortmund are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 and are unbeaten in seven Champions League matches at Signal Iduna Park (W5 D2).

Sevilla have never gone through in Europe's top competition after losing the first leg of a knockout tie, going down to Real Madrid in 1957-58, Fenerbahce in 2007-08 and Bayern Munich in 2017-18.

Since beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0 in 2015, the Andalusian club have lost three out of four against Bundesliga opponents.

Head coach Julen Lopetegui has similarly unhelpful memories of Germany, having lost his only previous Champions League away match in the country 6-1 when he led Porto against Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund will be without Jadon Sancho for "the next few weeks", but interim coach Edin Terzic is set to be able to call on Erling Haaland against Sevilla.

England winger Sancho scored the winner in Dortmund's DFB-Pokal victory at Borussia Monchengladbach last Tuesday, yet he had to be substituted with a muscle injury just two minutes later.

The 20-year-old subsequently missed Saturday's Klassiker at Bayern Munich, where BVB threw away an early two-goal lead to lose 4-2.

It was just the fifth match Sancho has missed this season, but that tally will grow as he takes time to recover.

Most notably, Sancho will not feature in Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second leg against Sevilla.

"Jadon will not be available to us for the next few weeks," Terzic said. "With Rapha [Guerreiro] and Gio [Reyna], we have to look."

The coach added: "[Sancho] is a subject in every press conference, so you know his importance. He is one of the most exceptional players in the world, especially in his age group.

"But, with Thorgan Hazard, a player has come back. Unfortunately, Jadon is not our only injury, but a few weeks ago you asked about Axel Witsel.

"Now, when you see Mo Dahoud playing in this position, it's always the chance for another player to show his worth."

Dortmund hold a 3-2 lead and have home advantage for the second leg, with Sancho having created two chances, including an assist, for Haaland in Seville.

Haaland scored twice in that match and added another brace against Bayern, but he later departed with a cut to his ankle.

Terzic confirmed the striker has since taken part in training, however, and he is expected to feature this week.

"[Haaland] got a knock, but it looks good that he can play," the coach said. "Tomorrow we will have another unit in which he will play."

Haaland has 10 Champions League goals in just seven games for Dortmund, becoming the fastest player to this mark at any one club as he broke Roy Makaay's 10-match record for Bayern.

His overall tally in the competition stands at 18 from just 13 outings, meaning he could set a staggering new 20-goal benchmark with a brace on Tuesday. Harry Kane was previously quickest to that total in 24 games.

Two more goals would also make Haaland the first player ever to net a double in four consecutive Champions League appearances.

His strikes last time out against Sevilla made him the fifth man to achieve three in a row.

Matthijs de Ligt was linked with Manchester United before his move to Juventus in 2019.

United have reportedly renewed their interest in the 21-year-old Dutch defender.

Could he end up in Manchester?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT DE LIGT

Manchester United are set to target Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, according to TodoFichajes.

United were heavily linked with De Ligt before the Netherlands international swapped Ajax for Serie A champions Juve in 2019.

With United reportedly not advancing in their pursuit of Real Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, the Red Devils are eyeing De Ligt.

United have also been linked with RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Paris Saint-Germain are poised to offer David Alaba a €25million-per year deal in an attempt to prise the Bayern Munich star to the French capital. Out of contract at season's end, Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid. Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City have also been linked.

United have been left alone in the fight to sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims TodoFichajes. Unwilling to match Villa's valuation, City have reportedly exited the race for Grealish. The report also says United could sell Marcus Rashford to fund the move.

- Madrid stars Lucas Vazquez and Isco are wanted by Everton, according to Calciomercato. After prising James Rodriguez from the LaLiga champions, Everton are targeting another two players from the Spanish capital, though Milan and Juve are also keen.

- Diario AS reports Madrid are prioritising a move for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. Chelsea, United, City, Juve, PSG, Barca and Bayern have all been linked but Madrid are reportedly shifting their attention from Kylian Mbappe to Haaland.

Erling Haaland was only substituted as a precaution in Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich, interim coach Edin Terzic said.

Superstar striker Haaland looked to have set BVB on course to a fine victory when he netted twice in the opening nine minutes at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Those efforts took his tally against Bayern this season to four goals across all competitions, the most in matches with the Bavarian giants over the course of a single campaign since Cristiano Ronaldo netted five in 2016-17.

But by the time Haaland made way after 60 minutes, nursing a cut to his ankle, Bayern were back level.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice before the break and then, following Haaland's departure, a crucial, controversial Leon Goretzka volley preceded the home forward's hat-trick goal.

Images of Haaland wincing in pain on the bench were unlikely to lift the mood among Dortmund supporters, already unable to watch Jadon Sancho following a muscle injury in midweek.

Yet Terzic said Haaland, now with 19 league goals to his name at a rate of one every 84 minutes this term, was merely being protected.

BVB host Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, aiming to protect a 3-2 first-leg advantage, with Haaland set to start for the 28th time this season.

"He played a very good game," Terzic said. "He got a little kick, but that wasn't the problem.

"He's been playing every game for weeks; we've got to protect him a little bit. We expect him to be able to play against Sevilla."

Haaland's double took him to 32 Bundesliga goals across 34 matches this season and last.

Uwe Seeler is the only player in the history of the competition to score more often in his first 34 appearances (33).

Bayern Munich have rarely been shy about coaxing players to cross the divide and make the move from Der Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Their willingness to do so ensured Dortmund's last spell at the top of German football, when a vibrant young side gegenpressed their way to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2011-12 and a Champions League final a year later, was an ephemeral one, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze each making the move to Bayern in 2013 and experiencing varying degrees of success.

And the build-up to the most famous fixture in Germany was partially defined by Bayern seemingly beginning a charm offensive to attract one of Dortmund's most prized assets, Erling Haaland, to eschew potential moves elsewhere in favour of following Lewandowski's path.

"Haaland is what a centre-forward has to be," Bayern coach Hansi Flick said in his pre-match media conference. "He has an enormous hunger for goals. The future could belong to him because he has everything he needs for it."

The Norway forward's agent, Mino Raiola, has claimed only 10 clubs in the world would be able to afford to sign Haaland, who has a release clause that does not become active until 2022.

But Bayern president Herbert Hainer told Sport1 this week: "We will go even more down our successful path of signing young players with outstanding skills. We are an economically very strong and healthy club.

"Although we're also suffering massively from the pandemic, we can always bring in players when we're convinced about them."

Bayern clearly have no doubts about their financial capability to sign Haaland, and they may be convinced to make a concerted push to do so after his first-half salvo in Saturday's Klassiker, which forced Flick's men to produce a stirring comeback.

Haaland had two games without a goal prior to Dortmund's trip to the Allianz Arena.

He ended that 'drought' in the space of a minute and 14 seconds, taking a few touches to steady himself on the edge of the Bayern box and power an effort that deflected off Jerome Boateng beyond Manuel Neuer and into the bottom-right corner.

Fewer than eight minutes later, he made it 2-0, his goalscorer's instinct again shining through with a much more simple finish as he popped up in the box to turn home Thorgan Hazard's pull-back from point-blank range at the end of a wonderful Dortmund move.

His double took his tally against Bayern for the season to four goals, but he would ultimately be denied the chance to become the first player since Cristiano Ronaldo (5) in 2016-17 to score more than four in a season versus Die Roten.

A second-half ankle injury forced Haaland off, the looming second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Sevilla likely playing a role in his withdrawal on the hour.

That blow followed a first-half fightback from Bayern, which was fuelled by a predictable source in Lewandowski, who diverted a shot-turned-cross from Leroy Sane into the net before rolling home a penalty after Mahmoud Dahoud's foul on the ever influential Kingsley Coman, taking his tally of Bundesliga goals against Dortmund to a league-record 19.

Dortmund's rearguard action in a one-sided second half looked set to frustrate Bayern and keep RB Leipzig top of the Bundesliga.

But their resilience wilted late on, Schalke product Leon Goretzka hitting home on the volley in the 88th minute and Lewandowski making it 20 against his former club by completing his hat-trick with an unerring finish from the edge of the area.

It was the kind of rapid collapse from Dortmund that illustrated why Haaland, having hastily adapted to life in the Bundesliga following his move from Salzburg last year, could be keen to make a swift departure to a team better prepared to compete at the sharp end of European football, even with the highly touted Marco Rose set to take over as coach next season.

Dortmund are four points behind Eintracht Frankfurt in the race for the top four, and have a fight on their hands if they are to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Haaland appeared set to steal the show 10 minutes into this storied fixture, but his 20-touch contribution was ultimately overshadowed by the man who reigns supreme as the Bundesliga's most potent goalscoring threat.

With Lewandowski maintaining this kind of form, Bayern have no rush to find the successor for a player under contract until 2023.

But after Haaland produced two goals from a game where had four touches in the box, his supporting role in the latest thrilling episode of this classic rivalry could compel Bayern to open the chequebook and add to what is arguably European football's most extensive embarrassment of riches.

Robert Lewandowski outscored Erling Haaland with a Klassiker hat-trick as Bayern Munich recovered from two goals down to again beat Borussia Dortmund in a 4-2 victory.

Bayern reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga hours after being knocked off the summit by RB Leipzig, despite an awful start to another epic encounter on Saturday.

The champions were two behind inside nine minutes following Haaland's brace, but Lewandowski had them level by half-time and Dortmund, already missing Jadon Sancho, saw their two-goal talisman hobble off with half an hour to play.

BVB still looked set to hold on and end a run of four league defeats to Bayern, only for Leon Goretzka to break their resolve before Lewandowski's treble-clincher capped another outstanding outing.

Borussia Dortmund do not expect to see their resolve to keep Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho tested by huge bids this close season.

Haaland and Sancho continue to be Dortmund's outstanding performers, predictably prompting transfer speculation.

Twenty-year-old striker Haaland has 29 goals in all competitions this season, a tally only topped by Robert Lewandowski (34) across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

Luis Muriel (one every 79 minutes) is the sole star to have scored 10 or more times at a faster rate than the Bundesliga pair; Lewandowski nets every 80 minutes, with Haaland marginally slower at every 86 minutes.

Meanwhile, winger Sancho ranks joint-fourth with his 13 assists and third with 82 chances created.

Haaland is expected to interest Europe's leading clubs, while Sancho was widely linked with Manchester United ahead of the 2020-21 campaign before staying in Dortmund.

BVB entered Saturday's game against Bayern Munich four points outside the Champions League places in the top flight, potentially increasing pressure when it comes to the futures of their leading stars.

But the coronavirus pandemic will limit spending again this year, according to BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.

"I do not believe that 'immoral' offers will come because I know the situation in the European leagues very well, also through my work in the ECA (European Club Association)," he told Sky Sport.

"The clouds are getting darker rather than brighter and I don't expect an extraordinary transfer summer.

"There are, of course, always two or three clubs, with whole states behind them, who find the means to pump money in. But in its entirety, I don't think crazy things happen [in the window].

"At the end of the day, it's our decision anyway [with Haaland and Sancho].

"But of course we always do it in such a way that we discuss it with the players. We would also like the players to be there with conviction and we will discuss every single case with the players if really extraordinary things happen.

"That is Michael Zorc's and Sebastian Kehl's task above all and we will get there. But I don't think it's going to be a huge transfer summer."

A fifth consecutive Bundesliga win against Dortmund would take Bayern back to the summit, but Saturday's visitors are well outside the title picture.

That is not a concern to Watzke, though, who added: "Oh, we honestly didn't have that on our radar this year. We saw it very defensively from the start.

"The times will come again, when we will be closer together again.

"Two years ago we had a huge opportunity. Unfortunately we didn't take it and then we finished second, but there was definitely the possibility.

"This year we are still in all three competitions. You have to see that and we have every opportunity to make another good season out of it."

Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Serie A's Napoli?

Koulibaly is one of Europe's finest defenders and the 29-year-old has attracted interest from across Europe.

Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing the Senegal international.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN FRONTRUNNERS FOR NAPOLI STAR

Bayern Munich are leading the race to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Il Mattino.

Koulibaly has long been linked with a move away from Napoli, though the club's valuation has deterred suitors.

But Koulibaly's asking price has reportedly dropped to €45million (£39m), alerting Bayern, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool.

Bild, however, claims Bundesliga champions Bayern have not made an offer for the Napoli star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild reports Manchester City are favourites to sign Erling Haaland if Borussia Dortmund sanction an off-season exit. Haaland has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Liverpool, ChelseaUnited and Bayern.

- As City target Haaland, Sport Mediaset says Serie A champions Juve are considering a move for veteran forward Sergio Aguero. The Argentina international is out of contract at season's end.

Barca have been offered Bayer Leverkusen star Edmond Tapsoba, claims Sport. Tapsoba is valued at around €40m.

- Wolves are open to selling Adama Traore at a reduced price, according to the Daily Mail. Barca, Liverpool and City have been linked with Traore previously.

- The Sun reports United are considering the sale of star goalkeeper David de Gea. It comes as Dean Henderson expects to become number one next season. The Transfer Window podcast, meanwhile, says United are seeking a new number one amid links to Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Chelsea remain interested in RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, according to Bild. Konate is not short of admirers, linked to the likes of United and Arsenal.

United have not contacted Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva as an alternative to Haaland, claims Bild.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick made no secret of his admiration for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland ahead of Der Klassiker, backing the Norway international to dominate the future of the sport.

Haaland has enjoyed a rapid rise since establishing himself as first choice at Salzburg for the start of the 2019-20 season, his remarkable haul of 28 goals in just 20 matches for the Austrians propelling him to top of many big clubs' transfer shortlists.

But, while the likes of Manchester United were keen on Haaland, Dortmund persuaded him to make the move to Signal Iduna Park, where he has been an overwhelming success.

In 45 matches across all competitions, Haaland has 43 goals, while he outperformed his xG (expected goals) by 4.2 in the second half of 2019-20 after joining Dortmund, meaning not only is he scoring frequently but he is also finishing more difficult opportunities – by comparison, Robert Lewandowski has not boasted such a strong xG differential since 2016-17 (7.8).

In three previous games against Bayern – two in the Bundesliga and one in the DFL-Supercup – Haaland has two goals, but he is yet to end up on the winning side against them with BVB.

Nevertheless, Flick is well aware of the threat posed by the Molde youth product, with Bayern facing the prospect of potentially being replaced at the Bundesliga summit by RB Leipzig if Dortmund leave the Allianz Arena with all three points on Saturday.

"Haaland is what a centre-forward has to be," Flick said.

"He has an enormous hunger for goals. The future could belong to him because he has everything he needs for it.

"He's fast, has a strong finish and the right mentality. When you see the intensity with which he puts on a sprint over 80 metres – it's great. He's someone you always have to watch out for.

"It's very important to close the spaces for him. We have to cut off those passes to him."

 

Flick was also asked about the situation of backup goalkeeper Alexander Nubel, who arrived on a free transfer from Schalke last year having established himself as one of the world's most-promising young goalkeepers.

It was always seen as a potentially risky move for Nubel given the presence of Manuel Neuer, who has gone on to put his injury nightmares behind him and once again cement himself as Bayern's number one.

Nubel's agent recently underlined his client's frustration with the situation and suggested he would look to secure a loan move away from Bayern if things did not change, and Flick showed little sympathy in his response.

"Those are things that we talk about internally – we will have an exchange," Flick said. "But we have no business talking about that here.

"His point of view is his right. Alex knew what he was getting into when he came to Bayern Munich. My job as coach is to pick the players who are currently the best team. He played two games and now he's injured.

"The clear number one is Manuel Neuer."

When Borussia Dortmund parted with a reported €20million to sign Erling Haaland from Salzburg a little over a year ago, they'll have been acutely aware of the coup they'd just struck – but whether they expected him to be quite this good is another matter entirely.

Those explosive first few months of the 2019-20 season at Salzburg left most of Europe's biggest clubs clamouring for the Norwegian, but Bayern were seemingly not among them. At least, not in the final straight.

While you can't necessarily have too many great players, few at the time or since have decried Bayern's lack of interest in the striking sensation, and that purely comes down to the presence of Robert Lewandowski.

Eleven months on from Haaland's Dortmund debut, Lewandowski won the FIFA Best Men's Player award having scored 60 goals across the qualifying period and led Bayern to a treble.

But the fact Haaland - named the Golden Boy soon after - was seen as unfortunate not to be nominated for the major gong ultimately won by Lewandowski is testament to the former Molde youngster's frightening potential.

Saturday's Der Klassiker is unlikely to have much bearing on Dortmund's Bundesliga title hopes given they'll still be 10 points behind Bayern even if they win, but the game does provide the opportunity to see the two sharp-shooters pitted against each other, like gunslingers in an old Western movie.

Haaland, along with Kylian Mbappe, is being outlined as the world's next great number nine, but is he already ahead of even Lewandowski?

LEWY'S LONG ROAD

It's easy to forget Lewandowski's backstory and route to the top, simply because he has been one of Europe's most-feared strikers for so long.

But Lewandowski's tale is one of rejection, perseverance and mastery – to say he always looked destined to reach the level he has would be revisionist. After all, the early years of his career in Poland were impacted by the death of his father, being cast aside by Legia Warsaw, a serious injury and failed transfers.

Sporting Gijon turned him down and the 2010 eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull resulted in the collapse of a move from Lech Poznan to Blackburn Rovers.

 

He joined Dortmund in June of that year, a couple of months before his 22nd birthday – by comparison, Haaland was still six months from turning 20 when he signed for BVB.

On top of that, Haaland's early impact on the Bundesliga has been far superior to that of Lewandowski, whose first season yielded only nine goals in 42 games across all competitions. The Norwegian managed 24 in 27 matches.

Looking at that alone, it's easy to make the assumption that Haaland is destined for even greater things than Lewandowski, but it's worth pointing out the Pole was played out of position a lot in his first campaign.

"I was annoyed having to play as a number 10 instead of playing up front as the number nine," Lewandowski told the Daily Mail in 2016. "I played the whole season as number 10. The following season I thought about why I was in that position, then I realised my game had improved. I learned a lot and, when I played up top again, I realised playing as a number 10 had made me a better player."

The data backs him up as well. Not only did his overall productivity in front of goal improve from nine goals to 30, he was proving more consistent generally in those decisive moments, his conversion rate increasing from 8.5 per cent to 19.5.

DIFFERENT BEASTS

When looking at – or comparing – any player in relation to Lewandowski, you have to consider the two different versions of him; pre-26 and post-26.

It was around this age that Lewandowski began to harness the fitness and nutrition expertise of his wife Anna, and it's quite easy to spot when that appeared to start paying dividends, as his goals haul rocketed from 25 to 42 in 2015-16.

He has not gone below 40 in any full season since then and already has 34 to his name in 2020-21 (32 appearances) – he is also just four behind Klaus Fischer (268), the second most-prolific player in Bundesliga history.

Haaland's long-term future isn't at Dortmund and, by extension, doesn't appear to be in the Bundesliga, so matching Lewandowski's record in Germany's top-flight looks unlikely.

But what's clear is he has found this 'world-class' level much earlier than Lewandowski – Haaland has more goals (55) across all competitions than any other current under-21 player in Europe's top five leagues despite playing just 57 games. Jadon Sancho is his closest rival with 46 in 130 appearances.

 

Haaland's first Bundesliga season with Dortmund saw him score 13 times, outperforming his expected goals (xG) by 4.2 – that's a greater differential than Lewandowski has recorded since 2016-17 (7.8), though the youngster's figure here has dropped to 2.5 in 2020-21.

While that is 0.7 less than Lewandowski's 3.2 xG differential, either way he's scoring a lot of goals and more than he would ordinarily be expected to over a long period of time, which speaks for his clinical nature.

Further to that, Haaland – who earlier this term became the youngest player to net four in one Bundesliga game (20 years, 123 days) – boasts a stunning conversion rate at Dortmund. Last season's 41.4 per cent (all competitions) is better than Lewandowski has ever managed, though it was of course limited to half a season.

In 2020-21 he hasn't quite found the same standard, yet his 29.7 conversion rate in all competitions is still better than any other Bundesliga player with 10 goals or more. By comparison, Lewandowski's 28.3 per cent will be a career-high for a single season if he maintains it.

BRILLIANCE IN LONGEVITY

At the very least, Haaland is already a contemporary of Lewandowski's – his effectiveness in front of goal is utterly devastating and, as demonstrated, seemingly a level above that of the Bayern talisman during his early Bundesliga days.

But the challenge for Haaland is to maintain that level and keep kicking on, as Lewandowski clearly did around the age of 26 when analysing what he could do better, taking himself from an excellent number nine to arguably the best of his generation.

Haaland is building from a higher platform than Lewandowski ever was, therefore one has to suspect he has the potential to surpass his exploits.

Maybe he could be this generation's standard-bearer. If he has half the amount of perseverance as Lewandowski, that'd be a good start.

As for whether he's already better than Lewandowski – well, part of the Bayern man's brilliance is his longevity and consistency, how he seems to be getting better with age. But for Haaland to be rivalling the world's best before he's even 21 is an achievement in itself.

Bayern Munich would have the financial strength to sign Erling Haaland, club president Herbert Hainer says. 

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland is likely to be one of the most in-demand players over the coming transfer windows as he continues to thrive at Signal Iduna Park. 

Haaland has scored 27 goals and provided seven assists in 27 games in all competitions this season. Among Bundesliga players, only Robert Lewandowski (42) has more direct goal involvements. 

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona have all been linked with the 20-year-old, while former Germany star Lothar Matthaus suggested Haaland's next logical step would be to join Bayern if he chooses to stay in Germany. 

A release clause of €75million will reportedly come into effect next year, and Hainer believes Bayern will be in a position to compete with others for Haaland's signature despite the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Insisting Bayern will "go even more down our successful path of signing young players with outstanding skills", having already agreed a deal to bring in Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig this year, Hainer told Sport1: "We are an economically very strong and healthy club. 

"Although we're also suffering massively from the pandemic, we can always bring in players when we're convinced about them." 

Hainer also confirmed plans to discuss new contracts with midfielder Leon Goretzka and defender Niklas Sule, whose deals expire in 2022. 

Goretzka has regained form recently after recovering from a coronavirus infection, while Sule, who had been linked with Chelsea, has enjoyed a positive run as a makeshift right-back. 

"Leon Goretzka has developed hugely in the last 12 months," said Hainer. "He's become one of the most important players for us. Yes, we want to extend with him." 

He added of Sule: "He's an important player for us. We'll sit down with him in the spring."

Erling Haaland continues to dominate headlines.

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Manchester City and Real Madrid are reportedly going head-to-head to sign the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – AGUERO OUT, HAALAND IN?

Manchester City want to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a replacement for veteran forward Sergio Aguero, according to Bild.

Aguero, who has been hampered by injury this season, is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

Haaland is a player in demand, having been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

But Haaland dominates the front pages of Thursday's Marca, Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo in Spain amid Madrid's interest.

The Norway international reportedly wants to listen to Madrid, who will need €150million to prise Haaland to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Lyon star Houssem Aouar remains on the radar of Juventus. Aouar has previously been linked with the Serie A champions, as well as Arsenal.

Chelsea are interested in Monaco's defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims ESPN.

- O Jogo says Liverpool could reignite their interest in Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes. Juve, Madrid and Milan have also been tracking the 18-year-old, who has a £60m (€70m) release clause.

Edinson Cavani is open to extending his United contract, according to Fabrizio Romano. Cavani joined United as a free agent on a one-year deal at the start of the season. The former PSG star has been linked with Boca Juniors.

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