Manchester City and United players are amongst the most Googled Premier League players in 2023 – with City breakout star Erling Haaland claiming second place in his debut season.
Data compiled by the sports betting community Online Betting Guide (OLBG) revealed that players from the two Manchester-based Premier League sides made up five of the top ten most searched players.
Tottenham Hotspur and England captain Harry Kane was the most searched Premier League player, receiving over 143,000 Google searches per month.
Manchester City’s forward Erling Haaland followed close behind, with over 138,000 searches.
Teammates Jack Grealish and Phil Foden placed fourth and seventh respectively.
Players belonging to City’s derby rivals Manchester United also made the list, with Manchester’s homegrown talent Marcus Rashford taking fifth place, amassing over 87,000 monthly searches.
Teammate Harry Maguire was the other United player to make the list, despite spending a majority of the 2022-23 season on the bench.
Google Trends data suggests that searches relating to Haaland are heavily concentrated in the North West, with the top eighteen areas of interest being in Greater Manchester or Lancashire.
An OLBG spokesperson said: “It’s fascinating to see Harry Kane ranks as the most Googled Premier League player. Even with the arrival of Erling Haaland at Man City, and their treble triumph, fans’ interest in Kane and his future has been sky high and remained one of the main talking points of the season.
“However, there is not much difference in the number of monthly searches between him and Erling Haaland, and the data reveals an interesting North/South divide, with Kane’s search popularity highest in the South and Haaland in the North.”
Katie Thompson, 19, is a Bolton-based City fan who followed the team to Istanbul earlier this month, watching them win their first Champions League title and historic treble.
For younger fans of the club like Katie, Haaland’s instant impact came as a surprise: “I actually hadn’t heard of [Haaland] before! But as soon as he was signed my dad couldn’t stop talking about him, mainly because of his dad Alfie, who was a City legend.”
The senior Haaland joined Manchester City in 2000. However, potential for a glittering career was cut short following an injury controversially inflicted by United captain Roy Keane only the following year.
“With a dad who played for City he definitely has a challenging legacy to live up to,” Katie said. “But he’s already proven that he’s deserving of his place in the record books.”
The Norwegian striker has had a record-breaking debut season with Manchester City, winning both the European and Premier League Golden Boots as well as playing an integral role in City’s historic treble.
He finished the 2023 season with 36 Premier League goals in 35 games, winning the Golden Boot ahead of Tottenham Hotspur captain Harry Kane.
Haaland has also shattered the previous record of most goals in a single season for a Premier League club, scoring 52 across all seasons and surpassing Mo Salah’s 44 goals for Liverpool in 2017-18.
On his online popularity, Katie said it’s no surprise the City forward is amongst the most popular Premier League players: “He’s quite quiet, but also super relatable off the pitch – as we saw from his Minecraft post!”
Like most professional athletes, Haaland has curated an online persona that revolves primarily around his career.
Occasionally, however, the City player will post content that is more subdued and informal – such as gaming progress.
Haaland’s transfer made an instant impact at City, a team seeking their third consecutive Premier League title.
His debut campaign began with two goals in his league debut against West Ham, followed by consecutive hattricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.
The forward quickly became a household name and, subsequently, the subject of memes – running gags such as the popular TikTok series ‘Painting Haaland every day’ only bolstered his online popularity.
Whilst fans like Katie have no doubt about the continued growth of the City fanbase, living up to their 2023 season is more of a concern: “I actually worry about what happens next for City. Winning the continental treble – what else can match that?”
“Online popularity is important, but winning silverware will always be the main goal. We need to keep up the quality and continue improving, especially with other teams who have had major investments like Newcastle on the rise.
“They’ll be improving so much in the next couple of seasons, so we’ve got to strive to not only maintain our current standard, but also improve.”
Despite having less total monthly searches than Kane, Haaland has more searches per Premier League goal.
City’s Jack Grealish and Chelsea’s Mason Mount amassed more searches per goal than any other player in the top ten, having scored only five and three Premier League goals respectively, possibly indicating poorer seasons than expected from their fanbases.
Manchester United’s Harry Maguire perhaps left fans most disappointed, scoring no goals across the entire season.
To the City fanbase, it’s clear that Haaland is key to future success. Katie said: “He’s a world class player who filled the space we were missing – we had great attackers already, but we needed that final striker who was rarely going to miss. We got that with Haaland!
“If he keeps this up, he could go on to be the world’s greatest player, challenging the likes of Messi. It’ll be a long path to beat those fan favourites within the club, like Aguero and David Silva, but he’s well on his way already.”
Featured Image: Christian David via Wikimedia Commons