Erling Haaland’s wide grin as he was swarmed by his Manchester City teammates gave Pep Guardiola hope that his prized striker is still content with the club before Tuesday’s crucial Champions League match against RB Leipzig. City’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday was secured by a late penalty from Haaland, who celebrated by sliding gleefully across the wet Selhurst Park field.
Guardiola was relieved to see Haaland, 22, celebrate his game-winning goal after hearing that both Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are planning bold bids for him in the offseason.
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Since joining the club in May from Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has scored 28 goals in the Premier League and 34 goals across all competitions. He’s still on pace to smash the Premier League single-season record of 34 goals, held by Alan Shearer of Blackburn and Andy Cole of Newcastle.
As City played Nottingham Forest to a 1-1 tie in February, the Premier League lead was lost due in large part to Haaland’s profligacy. With a five-point gap to Arsenal in the title race, City’s best hope of a memorable season finale may lie in the Champions League.
Guardiola praises Haaland’s commitment and potential
They’ve never won Europe’s top club tournament, and now they have to beat Leipzig, who tied the score in the first leg of the round of 16 in Germany at 1-1. Guardiola has insisted there is no reason to question Haaland’s dedication to the City cause and that he will need the striker to perform at a predatory level.
“The way he celebrates his goals and his mates’ goals shows how happy he is here and how we are with him and his personality,” Guardiola said.
“This guy doesn’t score one or two goals and the people go, oh he’s not the same! He is always there so the numbers speak for itself.”
“One of the biggest attributes I’ve discovered knowing him and working together is the fact that he can miss one chance, second, he’s not getting depressed, he’s not sad.”
“He’s thinking positive, he knows he will have the chance, he knows he will be there. And this is an incredible attribute as a football player.”
Guardiola, however, was willing to admit that some growing pains have been experienced since Haaland’s departure, adding: “What I would like when I finish our period together is the fact that he could improve the game, with the association with the team.”
“Realising how he can be involved in our game, not just putting the ball in the net. Because the net will happen all the time in his life.”
Not indicating any desire to run away to Paris or Madrid at the moment
Haland Said: “Of course, I don’t like to miss chances. I just do as I do every game, focus on my game. It’s not that bad, we have to keep going. As I said it’s not easy, I’m really proud.”