• John Gilding


Updated: May 4, 2021

Erling Haaland is a generational talent. That label should not be used lightly, but there’s no question over his ability as a forward. The man makes headlines wherever he goes, and with good reason, however his rise has not been good news for some other rising talents. While Haaland has shot to fame, others have been left in his growing shadow.

But now, we’re going to try and rectify that. Here are three very talented forwards that would be making the headlines, if it wasn’t for a certain Norwegian.

Darwin Nuñez (21) - Benfica

When Atlético Madrid created a huge João Félix-shaped hole in of Benfica’s squad, some people were worried that it would be years before that void was filled. They shouldn’t have.

It took just a season for Benfica’s scouts to find the replacement, and they broke their transfer record to bring him to Portugal. Nuñez is a slick dribbler, with an eye for a goal, and a key pass. His highlights reel is filled with delicious flicks, tricks and some impressive speed.

A friend recently made the observation that it’s like he has a forcefield around him when he dribbles, and that is the best way to describe him. When he’s on the charge, few defenders can get near him, and it’s no surprise that the biggest clubs in the world have been linked with him.

Amine Gouiri - OGC Nice

Gouiri broke into the first team at Lyon way back in 2018, and was set to make the 2018/19 season his audition to be counted as one of the best youngsters in the world. Sadly, after just 7 games, it was announced that he had ruptured his ACL. He recorded just one minute of senior football from then until 2020, and in that summer he moved to Nice.

But now, Gouiri is back with a bang. He’s Nice’s most potent attacking outlet, either playing off the left, or as the central striker. His quality is best shown by his record for France’s youth teams, with 45 goals in 55 appearances from the under-16s to the under-21s. He’s at this best when holding up the ball, waiting for his teammates to drive up towards him in support, then either laying off a pass to them, or taking on the shot himself.

The pool of players available to France’s senior team is seriously stacked, but Gouiri is putting in the work, and the performances at club level to join the queue. Expect to see him in the lineup with Griezmann and co in the next couple of seasons.

Dusan Vlahovic - Fiorentina

For any club looking for a Haaland alternative this summer, they could do a lot worse than Vlahovic. Standing at 6’2”, he is second only to the Norwegian for under-21 league goals this season. The pair are cast from the same mould; tall, fast, powerful and equipped with a deadly left foot.

The Serbian international has been in fine form for Fiorentina this season, with 17 goals in the league, including a wonderfully worked effort against Juventus. He has built a personality around the image of Zlatan, driven to be the best, and convinced that he has what it takes to get there. To be fair to him, he is walking the walk as well as talking the talk.