A front three born and raised in England, but honed in Germany spearheaded Borussia Dortmund’s surge to an impressive 2-1 victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday night.
Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho both started against the French champions, while Gio Reyna replaced Thorgan Hazard after 67 minutes of the game.
It was Haaland, arguably Europe’s most exciting talent, who took centre stage in the match by leading Dortmund to victory with two goals in the second half.
Erling Haaland starred with two goals as Borussia Dortmund defeated PSG 2-1 on Tuesday
Haaland pictured alongside his father, Alfe-Inge, who played for Leeds and Manchester City
At Molde, Haaland played under the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, now at Manchester United
Haaland was born in Leeds in 2000, where his father Alfe-Inge was playing at the time. His dad was a defensive midfielder, who played for Leeds for three years before joining Manchester City.
Erling’s career began in Norway at Byrne, where he made his senior debut at just 15. He went on trial with Hoffenheim in Germany, but was unsuccessful. After two years, he moved to Molde, who were being managed by none other than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
His form caught fire there after scoring on his debut – in 2018, he scored four goals in 21 minutes, including an 11-minute hat-trick, against the then-unbeaten Norweigan league leaders, Brann. According to reports in Norway at the time, a scout from Manchester United was even present at the game.
RB Salzburg swooped for Haaland in August 2018 and, when he joined in January 2019, his form continued to improve. He underlined his emergence in the Champions League, where Salzburg faced holders Liverpool in the group stage, before Borussia Dortmund signed him in the January window.
While Tuesday’s win over PSG is his best appearance in a Dortmund shirt to date, it is worth remembering he scored a debut hat-trick off the bench and, at present, has 11 goals in just seven games.
Jadon Sancho’s profile has grown hugely at Dortmund and he could attract bids over £100m
Sancho went abroad after being fearful of first-team chances when he was at Manchester City
The creativity provided by players such as team-mate Sancho will help Haaland in no small measure – for as long as the winger remains at Dortmund, anyway.
Sancho, 19, was born in Camberwell, south London and was picked up by Watford’s academy at the age of seven and then switched to Man City when he was 14.
But despite his obvious talent, a crowded pathway into the first team worried Sancho, so he made a bold move to Germany when he was 17 and was immediately included in the first-team squad.
His creativity is what has caught the eye of Europe’s major clubs and seen him become an England international. So far this season, he has scored 16 goals and provided 17 assists in 31 games so far.
An array of leading clubs are after Sancho in the summer – including Liverpool and Manchester United – and it is believed a bid in the region £100m-£120m will see Dortmund allow him to leave.
And if he does depart, Dortmund look to have a ready made replacement in Reyna, who made an impressive appearance off the bench against PSG.
And if Sancho does depart, Gio Reyna is fast emerging as the man who could replace him
Reyna pictured celebrating with team-mate Erling Haaland after Tuesday’s win over PSG
Claudio Reyna won over 100 caps for the United States side and his son is seen as the next star
Reyna was born in Sunderland in 2002 with his dad Claudio playing in red and white in the Premier League. Claudio played over 100 times for the United States, as well as playing for Manchester City, Rangers and Bayer Leverkusen.
Early reports of him detailed how he initially possessed a Mancunian accent but it soon evaporated as he moved to the United States and into the academy system at NYCFC.
But being born in the north east of England makes him eligible for Gareth Southgate and any future England manager. His current rise with Dortmund is unlikely to have escaped their attention.
But for now, the attention of Reyna and his team-mates will be on club football. A trip to the Parc des Princes on March 11 for the second leg promises to be a tantalising prospect.