Guardiola hails Man City goal machine Haaland: At his age, no one can compete with him

Norwegian striker looks to continue remarkable start to season against FC Copenhagen in the Champions League on Wednesday

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that Erling Haaland's prolific goal record at his age are unmatched by any other player.

The 22-year-old striker has scored 17 goals in 10 competitive games for City since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund, where he struck 86 times in 89 matches.

Haaland ’s hat-trick against Manchester United on Sunday was his third in successive Premier League home games, he is averaging a goal every 54 minutes, has had 42 shots and has also laid on three assists – with two of those also coming in the 6-3 derby rout.

On Wednesday he will hope to add further to his record of 26 career Champions League goals from 21 matches as City host FC Copenhagen.

“At his age, no one can compete with him,” said Guardiola. “The numbers speak for themselves and inside, in the locker room, and on the pitch we see things that are not in the stats that make us feel happy to have him here.”

Another 22-year-old, Phil Foden, also scored a hat-trick as City put local rivals United to the sword and the City academy player is reportedly close to signing a new contract to tie his future to the club.

“Due to his performance during these years, of course we want him to stay,” said Guardiola.

“He's an exceptional player, he grew up a lot. Already he is many years with us, he's reliable in terms of his physical condition, he's so intense in everything, every three days he is able play.

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“Both [Haaland and Foden], they know they can do better and hopefully they can do it.”

One player yet to sparkle this term is Riyad Mahrez, who was one of the stars of last season’s title win and run to the Champions League semi-finals. The Algeria international has started just four times and has not scored.

Guardiola said: “I know perfectly Riyad, how important [he is]. We need him to come back to his best – his best in terms of personality, ability, quality, his love for this game and how he enjoys playing.

“Step by step he will come back. Now he’s not playing much but he has to come back in better physical condition and then the rest will come along. As a player I cannot teach him anything, he’s too good.”

City already have a three-point lead in Group G after winning their opening two matches against Sevilla and Dortmund.

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They will now hope to take a firm stride to the last 16 in their back-to-back matches against the Danish champions.

Guardiola wants to put the elation of the weekend aside to focus on the next task. He said: “You have to pay attention. A mistake and now you don’t have time to recover. We know how important our home games are.

“I spent last night and this morning watching Copenhagen. They are really good, well organised and you have to be careful.

“You have to come back to reality and put our effort in to win an important game. If we are able to make nine points from three games we’d be so close to the next stage.”

Right-back Kyle Walker looks set to miss out after being forced off against United while midfielder Rodri’s calf problem will be assessed.

Updated: October 04, 2022, 4:01 PM
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