De Bruyne expects Haaland to handle 'pressure' but warns Man City striker needs 'time'

Norwegian joined the Premier League champions from Borussia Dortmund this summer

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Kevin De Bruyne said he expects Erling Haaland to handle the pressure of being Manchester City's new superstar but warned the Norwegian striker will need time to settle.

Haaland joined City from Borussia Dortmund for €55 million in one of the most high-profile transfers of the summer. Despite only recently turning 22, Haaland is already regarded as one of world football's leading strikers having scored 61 goals in 66 Bundesliga appearances and 23 goals in just 19 Champions League games.

His arrival at City, who won the Premier League title last season without a recognised striker, raises expectations that the club will not only extend their domestic dominance but end their wait for the Champions League trophy.

Indeed, Haaland's first appearance for City has hardly helped to temper those expectations after he scored the winning goal in the 1-0 pre-season victory over Bayern Munich on Saturday.

“I think it’s normal for the fans to be excited about him [Haaland], you just look at his track record as a striker and he’s already one of the best in the world," De Bruyne, 31, said. "If you sign someone like that then there is going to be a lot of expectation but it doesn’t feel like he’s feeling the pressure so far.

“He’s doing really well, the quality he has in front of goal is well known. He’s not done that much with us, coming back slowly. Let’s give him some time but he’ll be sharp and ready when he needs to be. In the first game of the season if he’s there I’m sure everyone will be looking but he’s signed for five or six years, I think he’ll score a couple of goals in that time.

"As a midfielder, it’s always good to see a player like him come in. If a striker wants to score goals, I will try to help him do that."

While much of the focus has been on Haaland, City have also welcomed other new signings this summer, including England midfielder Kalvin Phillips and German goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, while Argentine forward Julian Alvarez - signed from River Plate in January and loaned back to the club - will be part of the squad this season.

De Bruyne said the new players are adapting quickly, saying: “I've been really impressed with the new signings. They all bring a little bit of quality to the squad and seem to have a good rhythm in their game already.

“Alvarez looks very sharp, Stefan played a good game in Houston and looks ready. For Erling it’s been a bit more slow, we’re taking a bit more care of him but the quality is there, you can see that even though he’s only done a few days with us."

It has also been a busy summer for departures at City, with Raheem Sterling leaving for Chelsea and Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko joining Arsenal, while Fernandinho opted to return to Brazil at the end of his contract.

That leaves De Bruyne as the last remaining player from the squad of 2015/16 - the last season before Pep Guardiola arrived as manager.

"There’s been a lot of change this year. It’s been quite sad but some of the players who’ve gone, I had a good relationship with them," the Belgian midfielder said. "In one way I can understand why it sometimes happens in football but the other part is sorry to see them go. But some of those who have gone will be friends for life and we wish them all the best – apart from when we play them for 90 minutes!"

Having completed their pre-season tour of the United States, City are now preparing for Saturday's FA Community Shield against FA Cup holders Liverpool, taking place at the King Power Stadium.

100 major transfers of the summer so far

Updated: July 25, 2022, 8:58 AM
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