It is perhaps just as worrying as it is astonishing that of Manchester United’s squad, only Marcus Rashford has bettered Erling Haaland’s tally of nine goals in a single U20 World Cup game – across the entirety of this season.
Haaland, 19, hasn’t just broken records in youth competition this year though – he became the first player in Champions League history to score six goals in his first three games.
In total, the Norwegian has found the net 28 times in just 23 appearances this season for Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg this season.
With that being said, it is clear Haaland has an eye for goal, and come January the giants of European football will inevitably be sniffing around his signature.
The close relationship he established with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer while at previous club Molde could be enough to tempt the youngster to Old Trafford, with the United boss travelling to Salzburg to visit Haaland ahead of the 1-1 draw with Everton.
Solskjaer was coy about his trip to Austria following the game on Sunday, but revealed that Haaland had made a decision on his future – if that is indeed with the 13-time Premier League Champions, he will be a great asset to the club in both the short and long term.
Anthony Martial has scored six goals in 15 games for United this season, and in fourteen of those games, he started as Solskjaer’s central striker.
Although the Frenchman hasn’t been terrible for the Red Devils this season, his lack of a goal scorers’ instinct has been accentuated – six goals for Manchester United’s main striker is simply not enough at this point in their campaign.
The former Monaco forward looked dangerous in the Manchester derby, and similarly lively in the win against Tottenham, as United played some slick football on the counter-attack.
But come the Everton game Martial was largely ineffective and was a peripheral figure throughout the match.
In these games, against teams that sit deep, Haaland would be a much more suitable option up front.
Unlike Martial, Haaland is a ‘fox in the box’ by nature and is so often in the right place at the right time to score.
And also contrasting with Martial, Haaland is a physical presence, standing at a lofty 6 feet and four inches – United regularly get their full-backs and wingers in crossing positions, but so often opt against putting a ball in the box because of a lack of height in the middle.
With Haaland operating centrally, it would provide United with another option to unlock stubborn defences from the Premier League’s bottom-half clubs.
And perhaps Martial has become too comfortable with his place in United’s starting eleven – with Romelu Lukaku leaving in the summer and Rashford’s much-improved form on the left-wing, there is very little competition for the striker position.
If Haaland were to join in January, it could potentially motivate Martial to improve his game to retain his place in the team.
The worry for United fans if Haaland joins the club, is whether Mason Greenwood’s playing time would be compromised.
But such is the ability and versatility of the 18-year-old academy graduate that he is able to play on either wing, as well as behind the striker – and if he continues his lethal goalscoring form, Solskajer will have no choice but accommodate him in the team.
Signing Haaland would be a positive move for United in the long run. Maybe a player like Mario Mandzukic would be a safer option, but he would only be a quick fix to a problem that has haunted United arguably since Robin Van Persie left the club.
Even if Martial doesn’t make the grade at Old Trafford, two of the best young players in world football, in Greenwood and Haaland, would be competing for the number nine position.
That is a tremendously exciting prospect for any United fan.