Manchester City’s historic Treble bid has increased hopes of Erling Haaland committing to a longer contract at the Etihad Stadium this summer.
The Norway striker, 22, arrived for the start of the campaign but is in the frame for the fresh terms to make it even harder for Real Madrid to launch Operation Haaland and land the player who has scored 52 goals this season.
There is confidence at City that an extension has a strong chance of being agreed, given Haaland’s happiness at the club. With City one win away from a first Champions League triumph and European Treble, captain Ilkay Gundogan has spoken of the harmony of Pep Guardiola’s squad who have worked together this season with minimal tension as they have chased three major trophies.
Haaland has bucked the trend of new signings usually taking one season to adapt to the intense methods of Guardiola. While the City manager initially asked for more from Haaland all-round game, the player has adapted his game without his goalscoring rate dipping.
His contract signed last year after his £51.2 million move from Borussia Dortmund was worth around £400,000 per week until 2027 which means he has another four seasons left on his current terms.
City, however, have often given key players new deals a year after arriving, which was the case with Brazil goalkeeper Ederson and recently with Argentina forward Julian Alvarez. Haaland’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta, recently told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo that a buyout clause in her client’s contract could not be revealed.
“The mystery of this story is nice because nobody knows where it is, like a treasure chest,” she said when asked about the clause and whether it is tied to Guardiola staying at the club as manager.”
Any new deal would give City an opportunity to make it even more difficult for Champions League rivals to try to lure away the most prolific striker in Europe this season. Madrid have been long-term admirers of Haaland and were in the race for him when he was assessing his option at Dortmund.
The Spaniards are expected to be in the market for a No9 soon as Karim Benzema is being pursued by Al-Ittihad to sign a lucrative deal to move to Saudi Arabia where his old Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo moved last season.
City completed the second leg of the Treble on Saturday when they defeated rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley, with Gundogan speaking about the squad harmony this season as they have chased down three trophies. “We just have a very homogeneous group,” said Gundogan.
“We are very balanced, we all understand each other, the atmosphere in the dressing room is always good with the players and with the staff. “There is not much confrontation or problems that need to be solved. Credit to the group and the leadership of the manager as these people make it easy for me to captain this team.”
Man City step up Josko Gvardiol pursuit as Aymeric Laporte casts doubt on future
By James Ducker
Manchester City are ready to intensify their interest in RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol amid growing doubts over the future of Aymeric Laporte. Spain centre-back Laporte admitted in the wake of City’s FA Cup win over Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday that he has found this his toughest season personally at City.
The defender - who has two years left on his contract at City — wants regular football after falling to sixth in the defensive pecking order this season. Laporte is attracting interest from across Europe and is believed to be weighing up his options even though he refused to discuss the specifics of what might happen this summer.
“I can’t talk about these things,” he said. But he admitted the season had been harder to enjoy on a personal level, despite City moving to within touching distance of the Treble. Asked how much he had enjoyed the campaign, Laporte - a then club record £57 million signing from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018 — said: “Personally, much less than other seasons. It’s true that I’ve played a bit less but the most important thing is the team, the points, the matches and the trophies.”
City are long-term admirers of Gvardiol, who is widely regarded as one of the best young defenders in the world, and consider the 21-year-old an ideal long-term replacement for Laporte should he leave. Gvardiol has a €114 million (£98 million) release clause in his contract but reports have suggested Leipzig could be open to an offer in the region of €100 million (£86 million).
The defender has made no secret of his desire to play in the Premier League and is thought to be open to a move to City. City are already in talks over a deal to sign Gvardiol’s Croatia team-mate and Chelsea midfielder, Mateo Kovacic, as the Premier League champions waste no time looking to strengthen their already formidable squad.
Laporte was only introduced in the 95th minute against United at Wembley, a situation in keeping with a season in which he has fallen dramatically out of favour under manager Pep Guardiola. The defender has started just 11 games in the Premier League this term, and only 20 across all competitions, and wants to be playing more.