Last January Erling Braut Haaland burst onto the Bundesliga scene at Borussia Dortmund with a blitz of goals that broke records. Now fellow Norwegian striker Alexander Sørloth is looking to be the thunder to Haaland’s lightning having signed for RB Leipzig.
Whereas Haaland scored 13 league goals in his 15 appearances, Sørloth bagged an impressive 24 goals in 34 Süper Lig games (33 goals and 11 assists in all competitions) for Trabzonspor as they finished as runners-up to Başakşehir. While not at the same level as the Bundesliga, it was a top season nonetheless from the 24-year-old and reason enough for Leipzig to sign him to add to their attacking arsenal.
Up and down
The journey to the top has not been a straightforward one for the Norwegian forward despite very promising signs at the start of his career. Starting out at his local side Strindheim, aged just 15 he moved to the youth academy at Rosenborg. As a 17-year-old he made his debut in a Europa League qualifier and he took just 12 minutes to get himself on the scoresheet.
Game time and goals however eluded him at Rosenborg, and he was loaned out to Bodø/Glimt where he scored 13 goals and added five assists in his first season. Holland was his next destination with Groningen prepared to pay €750,000 for him. Again, things started well with a debut goal in the Eredivisie against Utrecht, but he scored just once more as he struggled to shine at the Euroborg stadium.
He fared little better in the following 2016-17 campaign scoring just three goals and adding three assists and a switch to Danish side Midtjylland was made. Sørloth blossomed and his 15 goals and 9 assists in 26 matches helped the Wolves to a second Superliga title. Goals bring attention and Premier League side Crystal Palace forked out €9 million to take him to England in the January 2018 transfer window.
His usual difficulties followed with Roy Hodgson freezing him out of the squad after just four appearances (two played out pf position on the wings). The following season brough 12 appearances, but all from the bench and no goals. Michy Batshuayi arrival from Chelsea put him even further out of contention and a loan move to Gent seemed the logical step. That didn’t work out too well with just 5 goals in 22 appearances, so Trabzonspor was his next destination. The clubs were racking up, and the career trajectory for the striker was stalling.
In Turkey however, Sørloth kickstarted his flagging fortunes with goals aplenty for the Black Sea Storm with 33 goals and 11 assists his season’s tally. An assist and goal helped the club to the Turkish cup at the end of the season and Tottenham, VfL Wolfsburg and Fiorentina were rumoured to be targeting him for a summer move.
The Bundesliga stage
It was however RB Leipzig that won the race for his signature paying €20 million to bring the Norwegian to the Red Bull Arena. Having sold Timo Werner and made Patrik Schick’s loan permanent in the summer Leipzig were in need of strengthening upfront.
Sørloth can be seen as more of a replacement for Schick that Werner. Standing at 1m 95 he has the aerial ability to cause defences difficulties much like Schick. He is however much more than a big target man as his stats last season show. His 11 assists saw him dropping deep to get involved in the build up play.
Julian Nagelsmann is not against playing two strikers and Sørloth will in all likelihood be competing with Yussuf Poulsen as the target man alongside a quicker more agile player like Hwang Hee-chan.
One Norwegian striker took the Bundesliga by storm last season, and Leipzig fans will be hoping that Sørloth can replicate some of that impact. His career thus far has been very stop/ start/ stop, but after his goals-filled season in Turkey it could be finally about to move up to the next level in the Bundesliga.