Some managers might select to alleviate the pressure on a latest signing ahead of a much-anticipated home debut. But Pep Guardiola has gone the opposite way insisting Manchester City fans are about to witness up close a striker who has it inside him to turn into “the best of all time”. The Catalan also says unlike Lionel Messi – who was the one player Guardiola has worked with who was near complete at Haaland’s age – the Norwegian frontman must proceed to work hard to enhance his game.
The Man City manager’s praise are further evidence that six weeks working with Haaland has convinced him he’s working with exceptional raw material each physically and technically.
Yet as importantly, Guardiola’s sky-high praise reveals confidence that in his showpiece summer signing he has a player who not only can handle but will thrive on added pressure.
“He’s a top striker and when you put the names of the largest strikers of all time at that age, after what number of games and what number of goals, he’s the best,” said Guardiola.
“You see what number of games he played in Salzburg to here. What number of goals? But he’s still at a young age. Tomorrow will probably be a latest challenge and he’s aged 22 with a protracted profession ahead of him and he has desire to be higher he’ll proceed to enhance.
“I’ll encourage him to be a greater player, a greater finisher and he has to think today I will probably be higher than yesterday, try to coach today higher than yesterday. When this happens he has the abilities to be top-of-the-line of best top scorers of all time.”
Haaland scored 29 in 27 games for Salzburg, 86 in 89 games for Dortmund and has two in two for City after last weekend’s Premier League debut. And with newly-promoted Bournemouth in his sights on Saturday afternoon he will probably be hopeful of adding to his near goal a game record since joining Salzburg in 2019.
Guardiola has been as impressed along with his link-up play and his general attitude around City’s training ground. He said: “What I see within the training session is that he was calm after Liverpool and calm after West Ham.
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“There will probably be moments when he doesn’t rating goals they will say possibly he’s not good. But you will have to be calm within the bad moments. He’s an incredible competitor but what I’m impressed with is he’s a really humble guy.
“It shows in how much he talks with the young players, not only the essential ones. He’s exceptional but I believe he will be higher and have the desire to do it.
“I actually have never seen a player around 21 or 22, possibly Lionel Messi was already in that band but the remainder were never the finished business, at all times you’ll be able to improve. We’ll attempt to make him a greater player. That’s the rationale why we’re here is to attempt to help them.”
City will probably be without Kalvin Phillips and Cole Palmer for the visit of Scott Parker’s Cherries but Guardiola reported everyone else fit and raring to go. And with Haaland seeking to kickstart his City profession in front of home fans for the primary time it may very well be a protracted afternoon for the south coast outfit.