Erling Haaland has proved to be an irresistible force of nature since his feted arrival in Manchester, scoring an incredible 12 goals in seven games and a record 10 in just six EPL appearances.
Currently, the best crypto betting sites are offering incredibly short odds that Haaland will win the UCL Golden Boot, while he already has two Champions League goals to his name this season following the midweek 4-0 win against Sevilla.
Aside from his goals, Haaland is also having a transformative impact on the City side and players like Kevin De Bruyne. But how is the Belgian playmaker adapting to the Norwegian’s arrival?
Shifting From a False Nine to the Real Deal
Few managers have mastered the false nine with the same success as Pep Guardiola, who first used this system to dominate midfield and create space for his marauding wide forwards at Barcelona.
He replicated this during his last two title successes at City, often deploying Phil Foden and De Bruyne in the false nine role and creating significant space for midfield runners like Bernado Silva and İlkay Gündoğan.
Like all great managers, however, Guardiola is constantly adapting and evolving his sides, with the Spaniard having happily accommodated skilled and traditional strikers like Robert Lewandowski and Sergio Aguero during his career. Haaland also fits this mould perfectly, creating an imposing focal point for the side and significant swathes of space for those around him.
Haaland has already had a significant impact in terms of City’s potency, with this borne out during the recent 4-2 win over Crystal Palace.
Here, City slumped to a 2-0 half-time deficit, just as they did in the same fixture last season. While a toothless City side was unable to respond in 2021/22, however, this Haaland-inspired team relentlessly swarmed Palace in the second half while the Norwegian struck a clinical 19-minute hat-trick chock-full of predatory finishes.
A second successive hat-trick followed during the 6-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest, with Haaland continuing to wreak havoc in the opposition’s penalty area and apply the finishing touches to City’s trademark, flowing moves.
How Has Haaland Impacted De Bruyne’s Game?
Haaland and De Bruyne are also forging quite the attacking partnership, with the Norwegian already profiting from the playmaker’s accurate and creative deliveries.
To this end, the Belgian already has half the number of EPL assists he managed in the whole of the 2021/22 campaign, registering four (and one goal) in just six appearances.
De Bruyne was restricted to just eight assists in 30 Premier League outings last season, although he also scored a high of 15 goals during these games.
With Haaland providing a viable target for De Bruyne probing and whipped deliveries, the latter can expect to register a significant number of assists across all competitions. He’ll definitely beat last year’s total, while he could also threaten his own joint record of 20 EPL assists recorded in 2019/20.
What’s more, Haaland’s presence and sharp movement could create more space in central areas at different junctures of the game.
This means that De Bruyne will retain a serious and consistent goal threat for the Citizens, meaning that the Belgian could well record double-digit assists and goal in the EPL in 2022/23.