Erling Haaland: The perfect man for Guardiola’s strikerless team?

(Source: The Telegraph)

The City team has always been filled with superstars ever since the takeover. They have the financial prowess to buy whoever they want at whatever price they think is right. But in recent times City has hit a bump under Guardiola. The team is without a recognised striker (no disrespect to Gabriel Jesus though) ever since Aguero got injured in March 2020 and then left at the end of last season. This is a dilemma that forced Guardiola to turn to a false 9 system that won them the Premier League and Carabao Cup last season. But the missing poacher in the box is an aspect that has led to City’s defeat against big oppositions. Man City did everything they could to sign Harry Kane this summer but was unsuccessful after Levy made it clear he won’t sell Kane at any price. The team is without a striker for one more season now. But the collapsed Kane deal has now opened up the avenue for City to go all in for one of the hottest prospects in Europe.

The man is known for his beast-like runs, impeccable finishing and the constant Terminator look on his face. Erling Braut Haaland.

Gameplay

Haaland burst onto the scene with his eye-catching stint at RB Salzburg after which he was signed by BVB Dortmund. Ever since joining Dortmund, Haaland has been ripping his competitors apart, both domestically and in UCL. He has an unending hunger for goals, can hold the ball and set up his teammates as well as make piercing runs through the opposition’s defence. The Norwegian has scored 68 goals and assisted 19 times in 67 games for Dortmund and has scored 12 times in 15 games for the Norway senior team. His capabilities have caught the eye of all European giants with everyone interested in securing his signature.

Guardiola, Haaland and Mino Raiola

Haaland’s agent is the infamous Mino Raiola, a man known for getting his clients the best deals and getting the highest agent fees for himself. This way of conducting business has also caused him to have a strained relationship with Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s manager. Ever since Guardiola ousted Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Barcelona during his time at the club, the relationship between the former and the latter’s agent has been all guns and knives. The agent is known for his outspoken behaviour and has called out Guardiola numerous times in public over the years. Guardiola on the other hand has always been sly and replied to reporters as he always does, in a not so clear but clear way. Although Raiola has a good relationship with City, the transfer of Haaland to City can be complicated by the agent’s fee and the wages he’ll want for his client. This summer, Raiola publicly demanded a wage of 50 million euros for his client as well as 40 million agent fees on top of the transfer fees. All these factors could complicate City’s move to Haaland next summer.

(Source: Goal.com)

Does Haaland fit in Guardiola’s system?

Guardiola is known for his possession-based play. The smooth tiki-taka gameplay with ball progressions and exploiting half-spaces in the opposition’s team. Haaland on the other hand is an out and out striker, much like Sergio Aguero. He exploits the gaps between the defenders and attacks directly. The attacker has immense shot power and great acceleration that makes it difficult for defenders to catch him. He feints his movements to pull the defenders out of position and then suddenly moves in the opposite direction and scores, leaving the defender in the mud. His off the ball movement is fantastic as well. His physicality helps him shrug off defenders with ease and his attacking intelligence helps him to be in the right position at the right time.

City is in dire need of a proper striker. They have a plethora of creators in their team but no one to finish those chances off. In their most recent match against Southampton, City had 16 shots and only 1 on target and ended the match with a draw. City’s main creator, Kevin De Bruyne has created 216 chances for his team since the start of the 2019/20 season. But the assists he has are much much lower than they should be. City’s classic way of creating goals by playing through the wings and then feeding it to the players in the box has proved useless at times due to the absence of a poacher to finish these goals.

(Source: The Guardian)

Conclusion

Haaland can be an ideal replacement for Guardiola as well as a long term one considering the young age of the striker. He has everything that the City team needs to replace Aguero i.e. physicality, attacking intelligence, finishing and work rate. The player is a goal machine and is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. Guardiola is known to train players to be versatile and can explore Haaland’s potential even more. His 75 million release clause will become active at the end of this season. But with so many clubs competing for his signature, the boy will not come cheap. City has deep enough pockets to finance his deal. The only thing left to see is how they approach this transfer because for bringing him to City, they need to go in fast and strong to avoid another Harry Kane fiasco.

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