Pep Guardiola will stay for years... as long as Man City keep Erling Haaland

Pep Guardiola will stay for years ... as long as Man City keep Erling Haaland - PA
Pep Guardiola will stay for years ... as long as Man City keep Erling Haaland - PA

Pep Guardiola’s name will be discussed by football federation officials later this season when the World Cup marks the end of a cycle for some countries.

The Manchester City manager has previously spoken about his ambitions in international football and presidents looking at 2026 will inevitably look at whether he could be tempted away from the Premier League. Yet the toughest obstacle to landing the Catalan will be persuading him to walk away from a team that has a new dynamic with Erling Haaland.

Guardiola has a relaxed attitude towards contract talks at the Etihad Stadium, where his deal expires in nine months’ time. “We will talk again about how we feel and decide what's best,” he says.

City’s biggest bargaining chip for him to extend came in the form of their £51million arrival from Borussia Dortmund, who is approaching two months since he last played in a game when he did not score for his new club.

His run continued against Copenhagen on Wednesday evening and City look better equipped to win the Champions League than they did two seasons ago when they were defeated by Chelsea and played without a No9, although Guardiola was also hampered by not selecting a defensive midfielder.

Bayern Munich and Club Brugge have the meanest defences in this season’s tournament and neither would strike fear into Haaland. During his time in Bundesliga, he scored five times in seven games against Bayern. His current form would be too much for any backline.

His second goal against Copenhagen saw him pick up the referee’s whistle in the build-up and hand it back to Donatas Rumsas. Moments later the Lithuanian official was using it to signal another goal for the Norway striker.

On the touchline, Guardiola celebrated by shaking his fists as if rolling a dice. It is not just his Dsquared2 raincoat that makes him look younger. Haaland has given his team a freshness that might have been deemed impossible after four titles wins as a group.

Pep Guardiola will stay for years ... as long as Man City keep Erling Haaland - GETTY IMAGES
Pep Guardiola will stay for years ... as long as Man City keep Erling Haaland - GETTY IMAGES

While Guardiola is only contracted until the end of the season, this team looks like it could function for many years. Kevin De Bruyne was rested this midweek but he and Phil Foden have years ahead of them, while Jack Grealish is showing the form that made City invest £100million in him.

Guardiola also beamed when Julian Alvarez was mentioned. The Argentina striker, 22, made his first Champions League start and was on the scoresheet. His starting position was often as advanced as Haaland, with City shaped almost in a 4-2-4.

“With the teams who defend so deep, we need players in the box and with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez we have this weapon,” said Guardiola. “In these types of games it is so important.

“The space in the middle is so minor. We need to make movements up there and Julian is good at that. We are happy with the goal he scored. He is a bit behind the highlights with Erling. Erling is something special. Julian helped us a lot to give us an extra weapon.”

Come the end of the campaign, Guardiola will have spent as much time at City as his spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined. He says there will be “zero problems” when he eventually leaves, but walking away from this team could be difficult.