Khaldoon Al Mubarak vows to strengthen Manchester City with 'more players coming in'

Chairman highlights signing of Erling Haaland as a testimony to club's vision

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Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said Manchester City will continue to strengthen the squad this summer, while highlighting the signing of "truly phenomenal" Erling Haaland as a sign of the club's ambition.

The English champions, who earlier this month clinched a fourth Premier League title in five seasons, have agreed a deal in principle with Borussia Dortmund for Haaland, one of the most sought-after players in the game. The Norwegian striker, 21, will join in July after City activated a €60 million ($64.7m) release clause in his contract.

Also, Argentine striker Julian Alvarez will join the squad following the end of his loan spell at River Plate.

In an interview with Manchester City's website released on Monday, Al Mubarak said: “I can confirm that there will be more players coming in. We are looking to strengthen the team in the areas that we need strengthening. As you know, every season some players leave, and then we have to continuously refresh the team.

“Again, we will always look at improving and strengthening. I think we’ve made two very important additions already, but I anticipate we’ll be doing a couple more.

“We’ll try to go as fast as we can, but you know how the market goes. It’s not always entirely in our control.”

City will be seeking to build on a campaign in which they sealed the Premier League title on the season’s final day, when their 3-2 comeback win against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium carried the side to 93 points, one ahead of Liverpool. The top-flight crown represented the ninth major trophy of manager Pep Guardiola’s tenure.

Manchester City have agreed to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund. AP

That said, City’s title win was achieved with a group of only 20 senior players, supplemented by a number of youngsters from the club’s academy.

With another bid next season for a first Uefa Champions League trophy – City were eliminated from this year’s competition at the semi-final stage – and the FA Cup and League Cup to contest, too, Al Mubarak said the club would only recruit players they believe will augment the first-team squad.

“With Pep and with this team it’s not just about filling a position,” Al Mubarak said. “We have reached a level of quality, a standard in which we cannot and will not compromise on quality.

“If we find the right player for that particular position, we will get that player and, if not, Pep has shown us he will find solutions within the quality of the group we have and within the quality of the academy.

“We’re in a different position to the one we were in many years ago. We have so much talent available within the squad and the academy that when we need something, it’s very specific and it's very deliberate. We are in a different paradigm from that perspective.”

The acquisition of Haaland, still subject to personal terms being finalised, would represent one such deal. The hugely talented frontman was linked with a number of the most prominent clubs in Europe, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, after scoring 86 goals in 89 matches for Dortmund since joining from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020.

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Haaland’s father, Alf-Inge, played for City between 2000 and 2003.

Al Mubarak said: “Haaland, from his early days in Norway and then moving on to Dortmund, has been on our radar for at least four or five years.

“We’ve been following his progression over the years and seen his transition from a very talented, high-quality, high-potential young player to one of the most, if not the most, exciting strikers in the world. He is a very, very unique, incredibly talented striker that I think the whole world has been looking at.

“I would say every big team in the world wanted [him] to join and we’re absolutely delighted that Haaland chose to join Manchester City. I think it’s a testament to all the great work that’s been happening at this club.

“It’s a testament to the quality of this team and it’s a testament to Haaland not just being a great player, but I think a very smart player that saw the potential of what he can do and how he can develop further professionally, being part of this team, being coached by Pep Guardiola and with the infrastructure that we have.

“The physical infrastructure, the training facilities, the stadium, and then, more importantly than all of that, the fans. I think he has a connection to the fans. I think for us, it’s a super decision. We are getting truly, I think, a phenomenal player that will give us great memories.”

In signing both Haaland and Alverez – the 22-year-old, who last week struck six goals for River Plate in the 8-1 Copa Libertadores victory over Allianz Lima, signed a five-and-a-half-year deal with City in January – provides Guardiola with plenty in attack. It should go a significant way to compensate for the departure last year of all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero.

“I think we can look back with a high level of confidence in the area we wanted to strengthen the most, which is that striker position,” Al Mubarak said. “We have, in Haaland, arguably the best No 9 in the world at the right age.

“In Haaland we have invested in that striker for the future, and in Alvarez I think we’ve found one of the most talented young strikers in South America.”

Updated: May 30, 2022, 5:24 PM
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