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Albert Braut Tjaaland: Can Haaland's teenage cousin be as good as the Dortmund superstar?

Over the past two seasons, Erling Haaland has proven himself to be a 'one in a million' kind of footballer.

Despite only turning 21 around a month ago, Haaland has already broken countless goal records in both domestic and European football having netted over 100 times in the professional game already.

And if anyone thought the Norway international might slow down in 2021-22, that doesn't look likely either, with Haaland having scored five times in Borussia Dortmund's opening three games of the new campaign.

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That killer instinct in front of goal combined with the remarkable physical gifts that Haaland possesses means that a player replicating his feats in the coming years seems highly unlikely, if not close to impossible.

If certain reports are to be believed, however, there may be someone quite close to Haaland's home who possesses the requisite attributes to follow in his footsteps.

Albert Braut Tjaaland made headlines around the world in July when the teenager marked his professional debut for Molde with a goal.

Usually a Norwegian Cup match against third-tier opposition would not garner such worldwide interest, but with Tjaaland being a tall, blond striker who is playing for his maternal cousin Haaland's former club, there are certainly justifiable reasons to track his progress.

That is not to say those reporting on Tjaaland's debut strike quite got all their facts right.

The excitement around the 17-year-old scoring against Spjelkavik IL led to a number of journalists scrabbling to find out more about the latest member of Haaland's family to show they have an eye for goal.

Quickly the statistic of Tjaaland having scored 69 goals in 37 games during his first season in the various Molde youth teams began to circle online, and was picked up by various publications around the globe.

And while those numbers would suggest Tjaaland has the potential to be just as good as the most famous member of his family, the truth is a little anticlimactic.

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In truth, following his arrival at Molde in the summer of 2020, Tjaaland managed a creditable eight goals in 15 games at age-group level before making his senior bow.

"I do not have a full overview of everyone who writes about this, but I have seen and heard that many figures are circulating in foreign media and in social media. This just sounds like a bit of a 'hype'," explained Molde academy coach Thomas Mork to Romsdals Budstikke when reports of Tjaaland's youth record were put to him.

"It's a shame for Albert that there is unnecessary noise around him. He is a great, young boy who loves to play football and who has an instinct for scoring goals.

"We hope he gets the opportunity to create his own story in real life. We will help and support him the best we can."

So what is Tjaaland's story?

Having begun his footballing education at local lower-league side Rosseland, Tjaaland followed in the footsteps of Haaland by joinin second-division outfit Bryne in 2015, where he was immediately enrolled into the Under-13s despite being just 11 years old.

A prolific goalscorer through his five years at the club, Tjaaland worked his way through the various age-group sides while averaging over a goal per game before making his first appearance with the senior side during a friendly against Egersunds in March 2020.

It is thought that the aforementioned 69 goals in 37 games statistic is actually an aggregated total of his time at Bryne, and though the figures are still somewhat exaggerated, they remain a strong illustration of why Molde were so keen to sign him around a year ago.

Molde, of course, were the club where Haaland began appearing on the radar of Europe's biggest sides before joining Red Bull Salzburg, and as such, the feeling that Tjaaland is re-tracing the steps of his esteemed relative has only grown since.

The fact that, like Haaland, the teenager scored on his debut in the NM Cup will only add to the hype surrounding him, though those close to him are keen to keep his feet on the ground.

"He has a great future ahead of him if he does the everyday things 100 per cent and correctly," Molde manager Erling Moe told Eurosport. "But I think that Erling is still a few steps ahead.

"He [Tjaaland] is an exciting boy with many good qualities."

Those qualities obviously include shooting, though Tjaaland is naturally right-footed while Haaland prefers using his left. Tjaaland is also around an inch shorter than the Dortmund star, though he too possesses decent pace across the ground.

"It's cool what he does, but I hear about it (the comparisons) often, and it can be nice to let it go from time to time," Tjaaland said when asked about Haaland by Jaerbladet in 2020, before going onto outline his own future plans.

"In the short term, I really want to get into the age-specific national team. In the long run, I hope to be able to make a living from playing football."

And if he reaches a similar level to Haaland, where does he see himself playing?

"Of course I want to play in the best league in the world," he said during a Q&A session put together by Rising Ballers when asked whether he would be keen to play in the Premier League, before revealing that his favourite team is Liverpool.

And if Tjaaland can - as unlikely as it seems - reach the same heights as Haaland, then the Reds might  be one of a clutch of clubs keen on signing him in the coming years.

But even if he falls short of his cousin's levels, the latest member of Norway's most famous footballing family is still a player worth keeping an eye on going forward.