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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola strikes Lionel Messi comparison in glowing Erling Haaland verdict

Srinivas Sadhanand

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola strikes Lionel Messi comparison in glowing Erling Haaland verdict

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola provided the ultimate compliment to Erling Haaland by comparing the young striker's hunger for goals to that of Lionel Messi during his time at Barcelona.

As the Premier League champions kicked off their title defence with a convincing 2-0 win against West Ham, it came as no surprise that Erling Haaland stole all the headlines.

Making his debut in the English top-flight, the Norwegian looked right at home, slotting a brilliant brace at the London Stadium.

Erling Haaland Against West Ham (Image: PA Images/Alamy)
Erling Haaland Against West Ham (Image: PA Images/Alamy)

For the opener, the £51 million signing from Borussia Dortmund used his frightening pace to run in behind the Hammers defence to latch on to an Ilkay Gundogan pass and subsequently win a penalty.

All eyes were on the 22-year old to dispatch his spot-kick and he did just that in ice-cold fashion.

However, the Leeds-born striker was anything but done as he got on the end of a sublime Kevin De Bruyne delivery and fired the ball past Alphonse Areola in the second half to put the game to bed.

While Haaland has garnered a ton of praise after his exploits this weekend, it was only recently after City’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Community Shield that many questioned whether he would be able to adapt to his new club's style of play.

Haaland arguably had a game to forget against Liverpool, as fans and pundits remained sceptical about whether he could adjust to Premier League football.

Reflecting on his star signing's Man of the Match display against David Moyes’ side on Sunday, Pep Guardiola zeroed in on Haaland's resilience to bounce back from an early setback and step up to take the spot kick in the opening half.

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland

“I know how he (Haaland) handled a lot of criticism this week," the Manchester City manager said after the win.

Guardiola hailed Haaland's confidence in stepping up as City searched for their opening goal of the new season against the Hammers.

The 51-year-old said: "He was really calm, he trained really well but the way he took the ball for the penalty.

"I said, ‘I like it’ - so direct and I think if someone is taking the ball, he (Haaland) would punch them in the face, even though they are his mates! That is a pretty good sign. To be so confident, I like it.”

After Haaland revealed that he is looking forward to the next challenge after a dream debut, Guardiola expressed his admiration for his marquee striker’s ambition.

“That’s good, I like it. I was fortunate as manager to be with Messi and when he scored two, he wanted three and when scored three, he wanted four," Guardiola said.

Erling Haaland celebrates his second Manchester City goal.
Erling Haaland celebrates his second Manchester City goal.

"The top goalscorers are never satisfied, they are always hungry and starving and want more.”

The Manchester City manager, who led City to back-to-back Premier League titles largely in the absence of a natural striker, went on to discuss the different element that Haaland adds to his side.

He added: “Erling (Haaland) scoring the two goals, it’s important for him and the team and for us and it’s another weapon we have now. But at the same time, he’s not going to solve all our problems, he’s going to add something to us as a team.

"Today, the two goals, they were balls in front, the centre of defence and we had the feeling we could find him more.

"In the past, we didn’t have a reference like him and now have it again, but at the same time, the guys have to put the ball there, especially in transitions. It was an incredible second goal and incredible action from Jack (Grealish). 

"The ball was fed to him, he keeps the ball and attracts the opponents and found a pocket and when this happens with Kevin (De Bruyne), with one guy, it’s difficult to stop.”

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Pep Guardiola, Manchester City, Premier League, Erling Haaland, West Ham United, David Moyes, Lionel Messi

Srinivas Sadhanand
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