Wednesday, May 25

Erling Haaland signing can be missing link in Man City’s Champions League pursuit

Manchester City are getting sick of not winning the Champions League. That’s pretty clear by now.

The Premier League champions-elect are undisputedly one of the best teams on the planet. They’ve won three league titles since 2017 and are on track for a fourth, but not only have they failed to win Europe’s biggest prize, but they have watched two domestic rivals – Liverpool and Chelsea – get their hands on the trophy themselves.

Now, with Erling Haaland in their ranks, it’s hard to see City’s European drought lasting much longer.

City have confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign the most in-demand player on the planet this summer. Yep, the most potent attack in the Premier League have signed a striker who, at the time of the confirmation, had racked up 85 goals in just 88 games for Borussia Dortmund.

For the rest of Europe, that’s absolutely terrifying.

While City haven’t exactly struggled to score goals without a traditional number nine leading the line on a regular basis, they’re now going to score a boatload more and any defence that thought they had a good grip on how to counter City’s forwards now need a massive, urgent rethink.

Pep Guardiola has already spoken with Haaland to detail just how he plans to fit the Norwegian into his setup. He isn’t exactly known for his link-up play and quick thinking with the ball at his feet – attributes that have made City’s attack so deadly for the past few years – but what he does excel at is making the most of space, manufacturing his own when none is available to him, and putting the ball in the back of the net.

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Haaland’s job at City will be to pounce on the limited space afforded to him and offer an outlet for any of the team’s creators, who will be drooling over the prospect of picking out the towering striker and wheeling away in celebration after he inevitably fires past the goalkeeper.

Even if Haaland’s not scoring the goals himself, his sheer presence will command the attention of at least one defender, if not two, which will gift even more space to Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and co. The group of current City forwards can find the back of the net with ease or will draw defenders away from Haaland, leading to a simple cut-back and the easiest goal you’ve ever seen – over and over and over again.

They’ll likely deploy that tactic to perfection in the Premier League, having already been doing that without someone like Haaland up top, and they’ll begin the season as near-undisputed favourites to win the title because of this signing, but perhaps more important to Guardiola, City’s chances of winning the Champions League just went up as well.

Can any defence in Europe cope with City’s attack now that Haaland is around? It’s hard to picture Guardiola’s men failing to break through any team now that they have one of the game’s deadliest strikers in their ranks.

Champions League glory wasn’t too far away before Haaland arrived. Now, with the 21-year-old finally a City player, it could be right around the corner,

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