Pep Guardiola stands firm on transfer policy despite praising Erling Haaland

Andy Hampson, PA
·3-min read

Pep Guardiola has hailed the abilities of Erling Haaland but defended Manchester City’s reluctance to spend over £100million on any player.

City continue to be linked with the highly-rated Borussia Dortmund striker despite Guardiola insisting his valuation puts him beyond the reach of the club.

City will get a close look at the Norwegian as they take on Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the first leg of which takes place at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola rates Erling Haaland highly but has played down speculation linking the Norwegian with Manchester City
Pep Guardiola rates Erling Haaland highly but has played down speculation linking the Norwegian with Manchester City (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Haaland, 20, has scored 39 goals for club and country this season including 10 in six Champions League appearances.

Manager Guardiola said: “The only thing I can say is that, with his age, he is an exceptional striker. The numbers speak for themselves and he’s a fantastic player – that’s all.

“To score that number of goals at his age is not easy to find. When that happens it’s because he can score with the right, the left, the counter-attacks, in the box.

“He’s a fantastic striker, everyone knows it. A blind guy would realise he’s a good striker. It’s not necessary to be a manager to realise it.”

Speculation linking City with Haaland has intensified over the past week following confirmation Sergio Aguero is to leave the club at the end of the season.

Federico Gambarini/POOL
Haaland has scored 10 goals in six Champions League appearances this season (Federico Gambarini/POOL)

Haaland’s agent is reported to have already met with representatives of Barcelona and Real Madrid ahead of what could be a huge bidding war for one of the hottest properties in the game.

Haaland would command a fee well in excess of £100million and Guardiola said last week City would not pay such prices.

He has not ruled out that happening in the future but he feels the current policy makes sense.

He said: “The fact we have not spent, for one player, a lot of money, gives you advantage. Football is a team game, everyone makes his contribution. It’s not just one player, it’s for absolutely everyone.

“So far the club has decided not to spend close to £100million for a player, or more than £100million on a player. Maybe in the future it is going to happen if they decide it is necessary to improve the team for the next five, 10 years, for many reasons, but so far the club, the organisation, the CEO, the sporting director decided not to do it and that’s why they didn’t do it.”

City are through to the last eight of the Champions League for a fourth successive year but have gone out at this stage in each of the past three seasons.

Guardiola admitted the loss to Lyon in last year’s one-off clash in Lisbon was particularly hard to take.

He said: “It remained in my head for weeks. It was summertime and it was painful. I cannot deny that.

“It was the last game of the season and we wanted to go through but we congratulated Lyon, accepted we didn’t do it well or didn’t deserve to go through.

“Yes it was painful but at the end what can we do? After a short time, 10 days, we wake up again and prepare for next season.

“We qualified for the Champions League and we are here again, to try again.”