Pep Guardiola has managed some of the finest strikers football has ever seen.
Across a trophy-spangled career in the dugout for Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, the Catalan coach has worked alongside the crème de la crème of footballing No. 9s, from Samuel Eto’o and David Villa, to more contemporary goal fiends, like Erling Haaland.
The latter is his current project. Under Guardiola’s ephemeral tutelage, he has notched 22 goals in just 15 games. For some perspective, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed that exact same tally in 46 games under Guardiola. A future Ballon d’Or, at this point, seems a foregone conclusion for Norway’s generational golden boy.
Early days, of course, but Haaland’s goals-per-game record of 1.47 is naturally the best of any Guardiola striker. His 1.55 goals-per-game record in the Premier League would actually see him surpass Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s shared Golden Boot record of 34 goals in just 12 games‘ time.
“We don’t have to be a genius, if he continues in this rhythm, with the average every game, he’s going to break the record, definitely,” Guardiola recently commented after his latest brace against Brighton. “But in football maybe you score and in a few days stop to score. I don’t know.”
Guardiola went on to discuss what constitutes the make-up of a goalscoring great, name-dropping a collection of his former strikers and emphasising the word “ambition” as the key to their penalty-box success.
He added: “I didn’t speak with him, I think he’s happy when the team wins and not when they lose. All the strikers I have seen in my career, Samuel Eto’o, Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Sergio Aguero, they all have incredible ambition to score goals. It’s normal. He has to be like that.”
So, how does Haaland match-up against Guardiola’s most iconic strikers?
As mentioned, Haaland sits top of the goals-per-game ratio chart so far, just pipping Lionel Messi’s simply ridiculous 0.96 record in 219 games, underlining the wonder of the Argentine’s genius. If Haaland were to continue on his current trajectory, he would match Messi in 129 games, reaching 211 goals in only 144 matches.
Elsewhere, Samuel Eto’o, Sergio Aguero and Robert Lewandowski are the only other strikers to surpass the 0.6 mark, while Mario Mandzukic sits unchallenged in the 0.5s. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Thierry Henry and Gabriel Jesus all come in shortly after with ratios in the 0.4s.