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‘Haaland is not at Lewandowski’s level yet’ – Striker’s former coach makes Odegaard comparison amid Bayern & Liverpool links

08:54 GMT 15/11/2019
Erling Braut Haaland Salzburg 2019-20
Alf Ingve Berntsen, who worked with the in-demand teenager at Bryne FK, has urged patience with a player attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs

Erling Haaland may be sparking talk of interest from the likes of Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester United, but the striker’s former coach has urged caution with a player who still has 'some way to go before he reaches the level of Robert Lewandowski'.

Alf Ingve Berntsen worked with the Red Bull Salzburg star during his early days at Bryne FK, with a prolific goalscorer set out on a path to the top.

It is being suggested that another step up the ladder will soon be made, with leading sides across Europe readying themselves for a transfer scramble.

Haaland is so in-demand because he has been starring domestically and in the Champions League this season, with five hat-tricks recorded across all competitions.

Those feats have unsurprisingly drawn attention from heavyweight outfits, but Berntsen believes it is too early for the 19-year-old to jump from Austrian football to the Bundesliga or Premier League.

He told Goal and SPOX: “The tactical requirements at Bayern and Liverpool would be a bit too high for now - after all, he has only played in Norway and Austria so far. And also there for a short time.

“Joining Bayern would be difficult for him at the moment. Because, of course, he still some way to go before he reaches the level of Robert Lewandowski.

“Erling is a dominant character, sitting on the bench would not be easy for him. As long as Lewandowski plays at this level, a move to Bayern would therefore not make sense.

“What many forget: Haaland was not even a regular player at Salzburg recently. He did not play regularly until August this year. Of course he caused hype with his goals, but it would probably be advisable to stay at Salzburg for another year.

“The most important thing for Erling is to play regularly at the highest possible level. It would be bad for him not to play at his new club. He needs playing time at the highest level in order to evolve. To be a substitute at a top club would be a hindrance to this development.”

Haaland is not the first Norwegian teenager to make a stir in the transfer market, with Martin Odegaard having done likewise after bursting onto the scene at the age of 15.

Real Madrid ultimately won the race for his signature, but the now 20-year-old playmaker has only recently shown signs of fulfilling his potential at the highest level.

Berntsen wants that to act as a warning to Haaland and those clamouring to secure his services.

He added: “It's similar hype to Odegaard. People are a little bit more careful with Haaland because of Odegaard, but there is still hope that they will lead a new, successful era. Odegaard as playmaker, Haaland as scorer. The newspapers are almost exclusively about the two.

“Erling's way is completely different from Odegaard’s though. He only moved to a big club in Norway at the age of 16 and then not to a giant, but to Salzburg in Austria.

“There he had much more silence than Odegaard had during every minute since he had moved to Real.

“His father, who is also his agent, has always made smart decisions. For Odegaard, the idea was not that he can play at this level immediately. Erling was better protected than Odegaard.”

While calling for patience with Haaland, Berntsen believes an ambitious performer is destined to scale greater heights at some stage.

He said: “He often stayed longer with a group of other talented guys to keep training. They were very focused and ambitious, four of them playing in the youth national team.

“They often played outside the match days in football cages. He only did it because he had an iron will to make it to the top. Still, he was a very humorous boy, a guy who made others laugh with his special humour in the locker room.”