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Pep Guardiola responds to Erling Haaland speculation amid links with Real Madrid

Reports in Spain last week claimed Haaland dislikes life in Manchester.

Andy Hampson
Sunday 04 February 2024 22:30 GMT
Reports in Spain have claimed Erling Haaland wants to leave Manchester (Martin Rickett/PA)
Reports in Spain have claimed Erling Haaland wants to leave Manchester (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has challenged Real Madrid to make an offer for Erling Haaland if they really want him.

There were reports in Spain last week that Haaland dislikes life in Manchester so much that he wants to leave the club.

Perhaps inevitably, it was suggested Real Madrid were monitoring the prolific Norway striker’s situation.

The suspicion at City is that this could have been an attempt by Madrid-leaning media to unsettle the 23-year-old and edge him towards the Bernabeu Stadium.

Yet Guardiola, who has seen such activity before, is confident it will not work and suggests any interested club should just say so.

Guardiola said: “For one report, for one journalist or one Twitter account, one Instagram account, do you think they are going to change something that is going to happen? It’s not going to happen.

“It’s going to happen when Erling decides to extend the contract or not, when the club decides to extend a contract or not, or when we have potential offers to him or not.

“If someone wants Erling, it’s easy. Call Man City and ask. It’s what we do when we want to sign someone. It’s not more complicated than that.”

If Guardiola has his way, the answer to any enquiry would be a firm no.

Haaland scored 52 goals in a stunning first season at the Etihad Stadium and had already netted 19 this term before being sidelined by a foot injury early in December.

We want him – for a long, long time at this club. We are in love with him.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola said: “What do you think? That we don’t want Erling to stay here for one decade?

“We want him – for a long, long time at this club. For a long time. We are in love with him, we want him.”

Yet Guardiola admits he does not know what the future will bring.

He said: “I don’t have info. He arrived last season and the impact was incredible. The beginning of this season, the numbers were really good too. He’s had two months injured.

“What happens in the future? Honestly, I don’t know. We are happy to have him, hopefully he’s happy to be with us. That is what we know. And the rest? I don’t know.”

Guardiola insists he ignores transfer rumours but concedes having players linked with big clubs can be flattering.

He said: “It’s normal that Real Madrid want the best players, and Barcelona want the best players, or (clubs) in Italy, or PSG want the best players.

“We want the best players and United want the best players, and Liverpool and Arsenal and everyone. It’s normal, it’s not a surprise.

“A link like that is an honour for us. It means that we did a good job, and especially Erling. In his case he made an incredible job.

“Is it true? I don’t know. It’s just to make a little bit of noise. It’s fine. Of course I ignore it. It doesn’t bother me at all.

“As long as the players are focused on what they have to do, the rest is not important.”

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