Erling Haaland has worn the number nine shirt for Borussia Dortmund since back in 2020, but he is only now preparing to do the same for Stale Solbakken’s national team.
Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard has drawn a line under Erling Haaland’s status as Norway’s number nine after the country’s football association confirmed the striker will also wear his Borussia Dortmund number at international level.
Haaland has worn the number for Borussia Dortmund since the start of the 2020 season, after Paco Alcacer’s departure from Signal Iduna Park earlier that year. However, up until now the number nine shirt for Norway had belonged to former Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sorloth.
Arsenal midfielder Odegaard is Norway’s captain, and will wear the armband for the upcoming international friendlies against Slovakia and Armenia. And as far as the former Real Madrid man is concerned, the switch from his country’s new number nine is not as significant as some are making it out to be.
“I have not realized that it has been a big deal,” Odegaard said in a press conference, as reported by Norwegian broadcaster TV2. “Erling has the nine and that’s it, really. I do not think it has been a problem for anyone.”
Sorloth has joined his compatriots in the squad, but will now wear 19 for Norway. It’s the same number the 26-year-old – currently on loan with Real Sociedad – wore last season for parent club RB Leipzig.
Haaland and Sorloth have both scored 12 goals for Norway’s senior team, with Joshua King the only current squad member to score more. However, while Sorloth’s goals have come across 36 games, Haaland has needed just 15 to reach the mark – including five of Norway’s 15 in their unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.
Ahead of the upcoming games, manager Solbakken suggested Haaland would be protected from the media to ensure his words won’t be twisted. This was a problem faced by the 21-year-old earlier in the year, prompting questions about his future at club level.
“Every word and every sentence he says would be twisted, and the translation would certainly be a bit speculative,” Sollbakken said, as reported by Sport1. “I don’t want to pretend that it’s not a problem – because it is.”
“Borussia Dortmund are now pushing me to make a decision about things but I just want to play football,” Haaland was quoted as saying in January, adding “That probably means that I will soon have to get things started”
“I never spoke until now to respect the club. I didn’t want to decide my future in January as we have a though period with a lot of matches. I just want to play football, but this is what they ask.”
“There’s no problem with Erling,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Ruhr Nachrichten. at the time “He is a spontaneous person. He’s allowed to do that. But he must also have some understanding for our situation – we can’t wait until the end of May.”
A number of clubs have been linked with a summer move for the striker, who has remained at Dortmund but sat out their Europa League elimination through injury. Potential suitors include Manchester City, for whom his father Alf-Inge once played, and Real Madrid.