How Does Erling Haaland Fit Into Guardiola’s Manchester City?

Erling Braut Haaland exploded onto the European football scene with his performance at RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League in the 2019/2020 edition of the competition. He was selected by Borussia Dortmund in the January window of the same season. Dortmund battled the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and other European elites for the poster child of Norway’s golden generation.

After moving to Germany, the 21-year-old is now one of the most prolific strikers in the world. After it was reported that he had €60m in his contract with BVB which became effective in the summer of 2022, rumors swirled around the fatal first player. Finally, it was announced this week that Manchester City have secured the signing of Erling Haaland, who will move to England in exchange for a deal. Haaland’s transfer, including his contract with City and his reduced transfer fee, would end up costing Manchester club in excess of €150m over a 5-year contract.

The conversation Foden and Haaland had in the 2019/20 season during a match between City and Dortmund appears to have paid off.

However, deducting the €60m value of the striker meant the move was ‘illogical’ for City. Manchester City, led by coach Pep Guardiola, is looking for a sure scorer, especially after the emotional departure of Sergio Aguero from the club. This seems to have cost them the Champions League twice. The additions of Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland will certainly look to fix the “bad luck” that Manchester City had to deal with in the Champions League.

But the addition of Erling Haaland to this Manchester City squad makes him the automatic candidate for every championship next season. It also makes their team the most expensive team ever assembled. Right about that because the team is dripping with quality. The attacking support staff who have been filling the vacuum of the striker known for the fact that Manchester City were able to secure the inclusion of Erling Haaland will be delighted.

Let’s see how the Norwegian striker fits into this Cityzen squad, what he brings to this team and the potential problems surrounding Erling Haaland’s move to Manchester City.

What does it offer to Manchester City?

Goals, goals, goals and more goals, this is what Erling Haaland will achieve for Manchester City in the simplest terms. Since the beginning of his career, Haaland has scored 134 goals in 182 matches in all competitions. He also holds the record for reaching 20 goals in the Champions League and is the fastest since the start of the competition.

This season, for the first time, Guardiola’s team does not have the best attack in the league according to the expected goals. Although the difference between them and Liverpool is very small. Jurgen Klopp’s raging attack for the Reds was the best attack of the league season. Liverpool also boast the third most balanced leadership in the league and added the stunning Luis Diaz to their squad in January.

After Ferran Torres was sold, only Gabriel Jesus was City’s only recognized striker and this season only KDB, Sterling and Mahrez have scored 10 or more goals. It is also unlikely that any of them will reach 20 goals before the end of the season. Manchester City’s league goal came from everywhere and is a testament to Guardiola’s cohesive attacking system.

More than the above, Haaland brings physical dominance and aerial threat, something that Guardiola’s Manchester City team did not possess in attack, and will add a whole new dimension to his attack. Standing at a height of 6 feet 3 and capable of reaching 32 km per hour with a full tilt, he is able to dominate any defense due to his enormous size and speed.

He also makes a relentless ball movement whether it’s running into space behind the defense or cleverly pasting into the opponent’s area, Haaland instinctively knows where the space is. This will come in very handy especially with the elite creatives on the team like De Bruyne, Grealish, Mahrez, Foden, Cancelo and Bernardo Silva who all have excellent creative numbers. Let’s see how he fits into the Manchester City squad

How does Haaland fit into Manchester City?

The biggest gap in the Manchester City squad was in 9th. With very blessed ball carriers in their ranks in Grealish, Foden, Silva, Sterling and Mahrez, Manchester City are perfectly capable of getting the ball into the opponent’s penalty area but often have no one with instinct. Natural to reach the end of the game. The opportunities they create.

Not only is Manchester City despite adopting a version of Pepe-Tiki-Taka’s style, they created most of their chances with passes and cuts from the line of width. Ironically, none of their attackers are ever taller than 5ft 10ft, and they can’t bully the top physically dominant defenders in the Premier League in the penalty area. Hence they hardly score any goals from them. De Bruyne and Mahrez are the best shooters in the Manchester City squad in terms of size and shooting distance. Haaland outperforms both on these metrics, taking more shots than them and getting close to goal. In fact, his numbers are very similar to those of Robert Lewandowski, which bode well for the blue side of Manchester.

Haaland will certainly play through the middle with Foden, Sterling, Grealish and Mahrez alternating between them to support him from the wings. With the exception of elite creatives on the flanks, Manchester City have probably the most elite creator in Europe in it and that is Kevin De Bruyne, who will grin from ear to ear after completing the Haaland move. Their partnership will lead to ossification of the defenses of the Premier League next season.

Possible problems

While this is the perfect move for all parties involved, there are some fundamental issues to discuss about Erling Haaland’s move to City.

Firstly, Haaland has always played in the leagues as teams relied heavily on quick turnarounds, meaning he used his speed mostly to get behind defences. He rarely played against a low block week a week, something Haaland had to do for a heavy possession team like Manchester City. In turn, he is often forced to play with his back to goal, but his size and speed will eventually modify his game, but that will be a challenge to wonders.

Secondly, Erling Haaland is a physical specimen, in fact he is pushing the limits of his body. Which has led to him suffering several injuries since his move to a more demanding league in the Bundesliga. Now that he’s moved to the Premier League, if he’s fit, he’ll score but that could also mean that if he continues to push the limits of his body, he may have to spend a lot of time at the treatment table.

I’m not sure if that’s what Manchester City want in the long run.

Finally, this Manchester City team is one of the pressing teams in the league and Haaland is not a very active player. In fact, Mahrez, who is the worst pressure officer in the team, is still better at that than Haaland. This is something Guardiola will be looking to correct urgently.

In conclusion, this is a great move for Haaland and Manchester City. Indeed, they should intimidate their Premier League rivals a bit as to what City can produce on the pitch next season with Haaland in their ranks. Despite some teething issues and adjustments, he’ll definitely score a slew of goals in the league especially if he can stay off the treatment table. He might even win them the elusive Champions League title.