Pep Guardiola effectively confirmed Manchester City’s imminent signing of Erling Haaland this afternoon, with the Borussia Dortmund striker close to completing a transfer to the club.
Guardiola is speaking ahead of City’s crucial Premier League trip to Wolves in the Premier League tomorrow, where they will be looking to move to within two wins of the title — assuming Liverpool beat Aston Villa tonight (Tuesday). Guardiola confirmed at the weekend that Ruben Dias, John Stones and Kyle Walker are all out for the final three games, while Nathan Ake is a major doubt to miss the Wolves game.
The manager spoke about the latest injury condition of his squad, and when asked about Haaland, said he couldn’t discuss the transfer as City and Dortmund had told him not to.
Guardiola rarely comments on players of other clubs until they are confirmed as City players, so the fact that he did not deny the transfer, and promised to speak more after ‘legal issues’ were completed, will be a boost for supporters.
Pep Guardiola say Manchester City are happy to be battling with Liverpool for another title, as he looked to move on from his controversial comments about ‘everyone in the country’ supporting Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Guardiola raised eyebrows at the weekend when he claimed the country was backing Liverpool to win the title, with Klopp responding to say he didn’t see things that way, and suggesting his rival’s comments were made in the heat of the moment after an emotional week for City.
While news of Erling Haaland’s expected arrival at City dominated Guardiola’s press conference ahead of the trip to Wolves, the manager was asked about the neck-and-neck title race with Liverpool, offering him a chance to clarify his stance.
“It’s going to happen, hopefully we can push them too,” he said.
Pep Guardiola virtually confirmed that a Manchester City deal for Erling Haaland is done — by saying he is not allowed to speak about it. City are expected to announce the £64million arrival of the Borussia Dortmund hitman in the next few days, but there are still contractual details to be ironed out.
Haaland wants to announce his departure from the Bundesliga outfit ahead of their final game of the season against Hertha Berlin on Sunday, so he can say a proper farewell to the “Yellow Wall” of supporters who have taken him to their hearts. But the deal is done, and he is understood to have passed a medical at a Brussels hospital yesterday.
Guardiola faced the media ahead of tomorrow night’s crunch Premier League game at Wolves, and he made it plain that the only thing holding him back from talking about Haaland’s imminent arrival was some legal detail.
Press conference talking points
Plenty to discuss today:
Haaland’s impending arrival.
City injury news vs Wolves.
Those Liverpool comments.
Title race mentality with three games left.
Thoughts on Wolves.
Guardiola is almost certain to be asked about Erling Haaland, but remember, he rarely engages in transfer talk until a player is officially a City player.
The manager regularly avoids talking about opposition players, even if they end up joining City, so as not to jeopardise a move or disrespect another club.
There’s every chance he’ll stick to that stance, and he’s previously declined to discuss Haaland whenever he’s been asked before.
Despite their heavy spending in the last 14 years, Manchester City have never truly gone in for marquee signings. The purchase of Robinho in the first flush of the takeover in 2008 was something of an exception, a statement move to announce that the Blues were about to arrive as a force in English and European football.
Arguably, the arrival of Carlos Tevez a year later was along the same lines, but even he was not a global superstar, despite winning a couple of league titles and a Champions League with Manchester United. Since then, City have gone for players who, while top professionals, hardly made a ripple in terms of being icons: Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Ruben Dias. It explains why, until they splashed a £100million British record on Jack Grealish, they did not figure in the top 30 of most expensive signings of all time.
While others targeted huge names like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Eden Hazard, City shopped at the next level down, and built an impressive squad by doing so.
But the impending arrival of Erling Haaland changes all that.
City could be without four senior defenders tomorrow night as an injury crisis has appeared for the final three games.
This is what we know:
Ruben Dias, John Stones and Kyle Walker are out for the rest of the season.
Nathan Ake is struggling and is likely to miss out at Wolves.
Aymeric Laporte was replaced late on vs Newcastle.
CJ Egan-Riley and Fernandinho finished as the centre-back pairing against Newcastle.
City are expected to complete the signing of Erling Haaland without a long and contentious battle for the superstar striker.
City are one of a number of top European clubs to have been putting serious effort into signing Haaland for more than a year, and emerged this season as one of the final two options for the player alongside Real Madrid; despite hoovering up the best Bundesliga talent as part of their domination of the league, Bayern Munich have made it plain the player will not be moving there.
The Blues worked their way into pole position and are close to what would be one of the biggest deals in the club’s history. What’s more, with Dortmund and themselves preferring to conduct business early in the summer, the sensational transfer is set to be concluded without dragging through the summer.
The fact that official confirmation of the move is expected soon — even if it does not end up being of a finalised transfer — will thrill City fans, who have watched the 21-year-old smash in goals at the highest level while Pep Guardiola’s team have had to adapt without a centre-forward for the past two years.
Haaland reportedly completed a medical in Brussels yesterday, and Guardiola may offer an update when he faces the media shortly.
Hello, and welcome to our coverage of Pep Guardiola’s press conference ahead of the trip to Wolves.
There’s a title-defining game to discuss, a defensive injury crisis, Guardiola’s comments about everybody wanting Liverpool to win the league, but you get the feeling the first question at 1.30pm will be about one person and one person only…