Pep Guardiola said as long ago as March that Manchester City needed a centre-forward.
Now, with Erling Haaland on his way from Borussia Dortmund this summer, the Catalan will have his man.
“You say we play fantastically well without a No.9 because we win,” Guardiola told the BBC.
“When we don’t, you say we’re missing a striker.”
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who is now a pundit on TV in England, believes Haaland will take the Citizens to the next level.
“He will take City‘s game to another dimension,” said Richards.
“He’ll put pressure on defenders, he’ll be a threat on crosses and he’ll hold up the ball and open up gaps like no striker in the team.
“Now, they miss a lot of chances. They won’t with him. I don’t buy that he doesn’t fit the style.”
Haaland will be the front man in Guardiola‘s two favoured setups (4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1) and could even play in a 4-4-2 formation with Gabriel Jesus – if he stays at the club – or with new arrival Julian Alvarez.
Manchester City’s top goalscorer
Alan Shearer, a legendary English forward, has nothing but praise for Haaland.
“A striker like him, with the chances City generate, will score 40 goals a season,” Shearer told The Athletic.
“They are a great team without a No.9 and with one they will be almost perfect.
“They press and steal the ball high up the pitch and Erling Haaland will take advantage of that.”
Haaland‘s numbers are frightening. He is close to the average of one goal per game at Borussia Dortmund (85 in 88), a rate he already surpassed with Red Bull Salzburg (29 in 27).
His 28 goals in 29 games this season with Dortmund, in which he has missed 16 games through injury, better the 24 of Riyad Mahrez, this season’s top scorer for City.
Guardiola and the false No.9
Since he dazzled by winning the sextuple at Barcelona, Guardiola has not always been faithful to the classic centre-forwards.
Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were displaced from centre-forward by Lionel Messi. Robert Lewandowski was immovable from the moment he joined Bayern Munich… but before that Guardiola used Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller up front.
And at City, despite having had Sergio Aguero, he has tried a number of other options.
Phil Foden (21 appearances), Gabriel Jesus (17), Jack Grealish (16), Raheem Sterling (15), Mahrez (nine), Bernardo Silva (five), Ferran Torres (four) and Cole Palmer (one) have been his No.9s in the Premier League this year, following the departure of Aguero. They wanted to sign Harry Kane last summer.
“I’ve always had a striker in my teams,” Guardiola said.
“Just like a goalkeeper, being a striker is a specialist job. And I always play with one.”
Now, he will have one of the best in the business.
“He will come for a long time and I am sure he will fit perfectly into our team,” Guardiola said of Haaland.
“He is an incredible young talent and he is at the perfect age.”
In Pep‘s puzzle, Haaland will fit well.
Read Full Story At: Marca