Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is on course to absolutely obliterate Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s Champions League goalscoring records. And he may soon overtake his great rival Kylian Mbappe in the all-time top scorer chart.
Haaland became only the third player to score five goals in a Champions League match, after Messi and former Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano, in City’s 7-0 mauling of RB Leipzig.
“If he achieves this milestone at 22, 23, it will be boring his life,” Pep Guardiola quipped on his decision to substitute Haaland and deny him the chance of a history-making double hat-trick.
“He wouldn’t have a target to reach in the future. Here and everywhere. That’s why I make a substitution. I didn’t know about Messi with Leverkusen, but I make a substitution because normally when the game is over we want them to play.
“He scored five goals. The problem is every time we don’t score two or three he will be criticised. This is the reality.”
The Man City No.9 is still just 22 years old but has outscored some legendary strikers – including Wayne Rooney – in Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.
It’s three and a half years since Haaland announced himself to the world by scoring a first-half hat-trick on his Champions League debut for Red Bull Salzburg against Genk. Since then he’s not let up, maintaining a better than goal-a-game average for Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and City.
Erling Braut Håland is a SERIOUS talent 🔥
He scored a first-half hat-trick on his Champions League debut 🤩
Already his fourth hat-trick of the season and he's only 19 😳 pic.twitter.com/WqC9mX14ss
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 17, 2019
The five-goal haul takes his tally to a scarcely believable 33 goals from his first 25 appearances in the competition. But how did Messi, Ronaldo and Mbappe compare after the same number of Champions League games?
Mbappe burst onto the scene as a teenager in Monaco’s unforgettable run to the Champions League semi-finals back in 2016-17. Since then he’s won the World Cup, scored a hat-trick in another final, and conquered French football by becoming PSG’s all-time top goalscorer.
But the 24-year-old is yet to get his mitts on the biggest trophy in club football. He’s scored 40 goals in 61 Champions League appearances – but having been eliminated at the round of 16 stage in 2022-23, it’s not unthinkable that Haaland moves above him in the all-time scoring charts this season, despite having fewer than half as many games under his belt.
Era-defining duo Messi and Ronaldo are way out in front as the competition’s all-time top two goalscorers with 140 goals and 129 goals respectively. But they may one day be surpassed.
Messi was gradually bedded into Barcelona’s XI and often had to make do with substitute appearances in his early years with the club. He played a peripheral role and was injured for the latter stages as Frank Rijkaard’s side claimed the trophy in 2005-06.
The Argentinian’s 25th appearance eventually came in the group stages of the treble-winning 2008-09 campaign, when he caught fire as one of the best players in the world.
Unthinkably, given how prolific he became, Ronaldo failed to find the back of the net in his first 25 Champions League appearances for United (not including qualifiers).
The legendary Portugal international’s first goals in the competition didn’t arrive until his 27th outing in the competition – where he scored a brace in a 7-1 quarter-final destruction of Roma.
Here’s a closer look at how Haaland’s Champions League record compares to Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo at the same stage of their careers.
Minutes per goal: 56.5
Minutes per goal or assist: 51.8
Minutes per goal: 135.3
Minutes per goal or assist: 86.1
Minutes per goal: 86.4
Minutes per goal or assist: 57.6
Minutes per goal: N/A
Minutes per goal or assist: 270