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FootballManchester City: Former Real Madrid star Van der Vaart hits out at...

Manchester City: Former Real Madrid star Van der Vaart hits out at ‘useless’ Haaland

Former Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart hit out at Erling Haaland after Los Blancos’ 3-3 Champions League draw with Manchester City, saying the Norwegian is “useless” if he doesn’t score.

Haaland endured a quiet outing as City and Madrid played out a thrilling draw in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.

The Premier League’s leading goalscorer forced Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin into one close-range stop early on, but he didn’t manage another shot on target in the match.

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Speaking in his role as a pundit for Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport, Van der Vaart – who spent two years at Madrid between 2008 and 2010 – was scathing of the striker’s all-round performance.

“Erling Haaland was very bad,” Van der Vaart said. “If he doesn’t score, he’s quite useless. I find him to be a very average player on the ball.”

Haaland scored 52 goals in his first season with City in 2022-23 and has netted 30 times in 36 appearances across all competitions this campaign.

However, this is not the first time his all-round contribution has been questioned, with former Manchester United captain Roy Keane comparing him to a League Two player after City’s recent draw with Arsenal.

“The levels of his general play are so poor, and not just today but in general,” Keane said after that game. “In front of goal he’s best in the world, but his general play is so poor.

“He’s almost like a League Two player. That is the way I look at him. His general play has to improve.

“It will do over the next few years. Being this brilliant striker is fantastic, but he has to improve his all-round game.”

City turn their attention back to the Premier League title race when they host Luton Town on Saturday, before welcoming Madrid to the Etihad Stadium for next Wednesday’s return fixture.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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