MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jun 13 – Erling Haaland believes he will only improve working under Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after completing his transfer from Borussia Dortmund to the English champions on Monday.
City announced last month they had beaten off competition from Europe’s top clubs to agree a deal with the German giants after triggering Haaland’s reported £51 million ($63 million) release clause.
The 21-year-old has now signed a five-year contract to follow in the footsteps of his father Alfie Inge Haaland, who played for City between 2000 and 2003.
“I was born in England, I’ve been a City fan my whole life, I know a lot about the club,” Haaland told Man City TV on why he choose the Etihad as the destination for the next stage of his career.
“In the end (it was) two things; I feel at home here and also I think I can develop and get the best out of my game at City.”
Haaland had almost his pick of Europe’s top clubs thanks to a buyout clause below his market value and a stunning record of 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund.
He also now has 20 goals in 21 international appearances after scoring five times in four games this month for Norway.
The arrival of one of world football’s biggest talents ends City’s search for a specialist striker to succeed the club’s all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who left Manchester last year.
City’s attempt to sign England captain Harry Kane from Tottenham fell short last summer, but Guardiola’s men still had enough to pip Liverpool by a point to win a fourth Premier League title in five seasons.
Guardiola has often preferred a system without a recognised striker, but Haaland is confident the two will be the perfect match.
“I think I can develop a lot under Pep and in this club. I think I can get better in a lot of things and hopefully I can score a lot of goals,” added Haaland.
“I’ve spoken a little bit with him and we both look forward to working together.”
– Champions League target –
Guardiola has won nine major trophies in six seasons as City boss, but the Champions League has eluded him.
City were beaten 6-5 on aggregate by Real Madrid in a dramatic semi-final in May to extend their wait to win European club football’s biggest prize.
Haaland, who has scored 23 goals in 19 Champions League appearances for Dortmund and RB Salzburg, will be expected to get City over the line when it matters most in Europe.
“I want to score goals, win trophies, and improve as a footballer and I am confident I can do that here. This is a great move for me, and I can’t wait to get started in pre-season,” he said.
“There are so many world-class players in this squad and Pep is one of the greatest managers of all time, so I believe I am in the right place to fulfil my ambitions,” he added.
Despite failing to land the Champions League, Haaland’s decision to choose City over the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United is a huge coup for the club’s rising status as one of European football’s superpowers.
“His rise has been remarkable, but he is still only 21. His best years are ahead of him, and we are confident he can get even better working with Pep,” said City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain.
“He is a huge talent and has been one of the best strikers in Europe over the last few seasons.
“His goalscoring record is exceptional and his performances at Borussia Dortmund and in the Champions League in particular have proved he can succeed at the highest level.”