Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has likened Erling Haaland to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and his eternal rival Lionel Messi.
The Norwegian striker has been in hot form since joining Man City from Borussia Dortmund last summer. He is already City’s all-time leading goalscorer in a single season, having scored twice in his side’s 4-1 over Southampton on Saturday.
That brace took his tally in the Premier League this season to 30 in only 27 appearances. With nine games still to play in the PL this season, Haaland could score ten more goals, given his current ratio of goals per game.
That would put the Norwegian on 40 goals this season. Should he achieve that, he would smash the existing single-season Premier League record of 32 goals held by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
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Speaking after the game against Southampton on Saturday, Haaland’s coach Pep Guardiola quickly praised the superstar’s goal-scoring ability, comparing him to Ronaldo and Messi. However, he insisted that the Argentine was a more complete player.
“In terms of the thesis of scoring goals. He’s quite similar in terms of Cristiano, but Messi is the more complete player,” Guardiola explained.
“Messi can play wherever while Cristiano and Erling are machines. Erling knows those two guys dominated over two decades, not just one or two seasons, winning titles and doing everything. Football is a better place for Cristiano and Messi for what they have done for our business and the traction of these two guys competing at the big clubs.
“Erling is arriving in the toughest league in the world. I can talk as I’ve been in other leagues, and doing what he has done is remarkable.”
The Catalan coach worked extensively with Messi at Barca and is better placed than most to directly compare Haaland to the World Cup winner. And according to Pep, it seems that Haaland has the edge on the all-time great in terms of his positive mindset.
“Haaland is always happy, always smiling. Lionel Messi scored two but not three and was a bit sad because he didn’t score the third!” Guardiola explained.
“Erling is all the time in an incredible mood. Even in the bad moments at the beginning of this season, when people said he couldn’t adapt, he arrived at training with a big smile and said hi to everyone. He has had an incredible impact, not just on the pitch.
“Every day in training sessions, in the locker room. I have the feeling that he is so happy with us. He never complains about [being taken off]. He respects me a lot.”