Erling Haaland moves to Manchester City: This is how the Norwegian could work under Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is said to have little need for classic strikers. At FC Barcelona he had problems with Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and in Munich he first suggested that Mario Gomez leave the club before chasing Mario Mandzukic off the pitch after a year together.

Since joining Manchester in 2016, the club has spent over a billion euros on transfers. The latest new center-forward was Gabriel Jesus, who arrived on the island from Palmeiras in 2016 for € 32m. In the current squad, there are only two trained attackers with Jesus and the young hopeful Liam Delap.

But Guardiola was already pursuing the plan to sign a big name for the storm center last summer when City tried in vain to free Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur. In early March, Guardiola renewed the need to get an attacker in an interview with the “Telegraph”.


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“The club definitely needs a striker. I do not agree that we play great without a striker because we win,” he said.

Haaland and Manchester City? Didi Hamann is in doubt

Now Guardiola gets his dream player in Erling Haaland. The massive Haaland and Guardiola’s elegant playing style – does it even fit together?

“Sky” expert Didi Hamann is in doubt. Haaland is the “anti-pep player” par excellence, Hamann explained, adding. “I do not think he will play with such a striker!”

Football expert Ibrahim Mustapha from Eurosport UKin London see it completely differently. “After Guardiola did not get Kane, he decided not to sign another striker. It could be an indication that Guardiola was waiting for Haaland,” said Mustapha.

For the past three years, Haaland has made a name for himself at BVB as a physically strong striker who, with elemental force and high speed, seeks deep paths into the opposite penalty area, but can also create a goal threat at any time in a limited space. He scored 85 goals in 88 competitive games for Dortmund.

“The fact that he is coming to City, the best club in the Premier League, shows how much he is valued in England,” said Mustapha.

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Pep Guardiola demands the complete package of his attacking players

At first glance, Guardiola’s philosophy does not really coincide with Haaland’s qualities. Axis Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez crush his opponents with offensive power, hugely aggressive counter-pressure, constant position changes and the short passing game typical of Guardiola. The main focus of the last third in front of the opponent’s goal is on many passes into the interfaces.

Haaland does not necessarily have his strengths in passing and rarely lets himself fall on the wings – atypical of the city’s attackers. Gabriel Jesus also goes to great lengths to serve as an extra pass-through station and to make room for Silva or De Bruyne, who would like to move up in the box.

Guardiola expects his attacking players to be equally good at assisting and scoring goals. Haaland has to work on this complete package, but at the age of 21, his development is far from over.

Haaland still has room for improvement with one-touch combinations in the game structure and with fixing balls with his back to goal and then handing them over to teammates in a good finishing position. Little things for a caliber like him who does not have the worst teachers in City either.

Erling Haaland can become the new Sergio Aguero

On closer inspection, Haaland already fits into Manchester City. One of his greatest qualities is being able to quickly pull opponents to the far side of the ball, thus creating gaps that De Bruyne, Silva or Ilkay Gündogan then fill.

In addition, City often overwhelm their opponents with quick combinations down to the baseline and the subsequent low pass to the back of the central defenders. A dream for strong finishers like Haaland, who is able to time his movements in such a way that he puts the crucial meters between himself and the opponent at the right moment.

With this style, Sergio Aguero has had great success in City, even under Guardiola. The Argentine is Skyblues’ record scorer with 260 goals, scoring one goal every 107 minutes.

Erling Haaland (BVB)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Guardiola had enough time to prepare for Haaland

Mustapha also assumes that Guardiola has long been working on an adaptation of his style in favor of a real number nine. “When he did not get Kane, he had a whole year to think about how it could work,” said the Premier League expert.

Haaland is also exactly the type of player that City missed in the dramatic Champions League defeat against Real Madrid in extra time. A powerful striker who can win when balls sail into the penalty area as a last resort. So Real saved themselves with two goals in the final phase only in extra time.

It is still unknown whether Haaland is the crucial part of the mosaic for the perfect image of Manchester City. But a real Torgarant can certainly not hurt a team that is already producing goals on the assembly line. Haaland is another promising opportunity for Guardiola in the relentlessly well-stocked squad.

“It seems that City with Haaland are practically unstoppable. Fresh offensive force is added to the existing offensive force,” says Football expert Ibrahim Mustapha from Eurosport UK in London.

Is that finally enough for the long-awaited victory in the Champions League? “Only tactical mistakes or an unforgivable defensive blunder can stop City on this path,” Mustapha said.

Whether the competition likes it or not: With Erling Haaland, Manchester City will be a little bit stronger from the 2022/23 season.

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