Jesse Marsch revealed a joke with his former Salzburg striker Erling Haaland ahead of Manchester City's visit to Leeds United on Wednesday.

Haaland – who spent half a season under Marsch before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020 – has scored 18 Premier League goals this season, six more than his closest rival Harry Kane.

The Norway international was born in Leeds, where his father Alfie Haaland spent three years as a player before himself joining City in 2000.

Haaland was perhaps the most high-profile player not to feature at the recent World Cup in Qatar, and Marsch is concerned about what that could mean for Leeds when they resume their Premier League campaign against the champions.

Asked if he had been in contact with Haaland ahead of the game, Leeds boss Marsch said: "He texted me as soon as the schedule came out. 

"He said he's most excited for this, and I gave him permission to have a small hamstring injury for that match!

"He was born in Leeds, his father has history here, and he has the club in his heart because of that. 

"We have talked about it. When I got the job, he and his father were supportive. We'll expect him to be fully ready, and that causes issues for us."

Leeds lost their two Premier League meetings with City by an aggregate score of 11-0 last season, and they have not won any of their last seven home games against reigning top-flight champions.

While City boss Pep Guardiola is waiting for several players to return, Marsch would have preferred to see more of their key men remain involved in the World Cup until the latter stages.

Kevin De Bruyne's Belgium and Ilkay Gundogan's Germany did not make it out of the group stage, while Spain exited in the last 16 and England, Portugal and Brazil in the quarter-finals. Argentina forward Julian Alvarez was the only City star involved from the semi-finals onwards.

"Right now, it is Man City we are focused on. I would have hoped their players would have gone deeper in the World Cup, but it is so competitive," Marsch said.

"They have a great squad and the best manager in the world. We are not afraid of the biggest opponents. 

"We've proven we can compete and get points, but we need a good plan and execution to do that, and we know that."

Everton and Wolves are reportedly interested in signing Atletico Madrid forward Matheus Cunha as the Spanish side look to cash in on their young talent.

The 23-year-old arrived at the club in August last year and, despite making 29 LaLiga appearances, he was only awarded eight starts, scoring six goals and contributing six assists for the campaign.

This season has been more of the same for the Brazilian international, being subbed on in 15 games across all club competitions, while making just two starts. He is yet to score this season.

Sitting fifth in LaLiga with only seven wins from 14 fixtures, Atletico were also eliminated from all European competition by finishing bottom of their Champions League group – and they have decided it is time for some changes.



According to Fichajes, Wolves and Everton are the two main clubs showing a desire to bring in Cunha, who has eight international caps for Brazil, but was left out of their World Cup squad.

The report states the club needs to part ways with some prominent players for financial reasons, and while Thomas Lemar and Rodrigo De Paul have plenty of suitors, Atletico are more likely to ship off Cunha and fellow Brazilian Felipe.

Wolves are said to be investigating a potential deal to bring in both Cunha and 33-year-old centre-back Felipe, while Everton are focused on Cunha by himself, with no mention of an asking price.



– 90min is reporting Newcastle United and Liverpool are among a host of teams interested in a loan deal for Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, but the Stamford Bridge club would prefer to send him overseas to avoid strengthening their competition.

– According to Marca, Real Madrid have decided to make a run at Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham in January after his impressive World Cup campaign.

– Sport claims Real Madrid are no longer planning a move for Manchester City's Erling Haaland after securing 16-year-old Brazilian prodigy Endrick from Palmeiras.

Fulham are the favourites to land Roma right-back Rick Karsdorp, with Lille and Juventus falling behind due to their hesitance for a permanent deal, per Calciomercato.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Chelsea will aggressively pursue a striker in January after the ACL injury to Armando Broja.

Cody Gakpo's reputation has grown exponentially during the World Cup having netted three goals for the Netherlands in the group stage.

Manchester United, who are managed by ex-Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, were keen on the 23-year-old during the off-season but no move materialised.

The Red Devils have since parted ways with five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and are eager to bolster their forward options.


Manchester United are ready to make their move for Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo in January, according to The Sun.

However, Gakpo's Dutch club PSV will demand £50million (€58m) for him, claims The Mirror, which is double what they wanted in the off season.

If that asking price is prohibitive, United may opt to switch their attention to Milan's Rafael Leao, who is contracted until 2024.



Real Madrid's plans to sign Leao will be deferred until 2024, according to Sport. Madrid's sights are set on chasing Manchester City's Erling Haaland, who reportedly has an exit clause from 2024, and Palmeiras teenager Endrick, who cannot move to Europe until he is 18, in 2024.

– Atletico Madrid are looking to sell Portuguese forward Joao Felix in January, reports Marca. Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked with the 23-year-old who is contracted until 2026.

– GiveMeSport's Dean Jones claims Newcastle United are considering Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic, who is currently the subject of plenty of speculation.

Arsenal are not making plans to sign a replacement for Gabriel Jesus whose World Cup was ended prematurely by a knee injury, despite there being no certainty on how long he will be out injured, claims Football Insider.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Inter are in the hunt for a midfielder and weighing up a move for Valencia's United States international Yunus Musah, who caught the eye at the World Cup.

John Stones rates Harry Kane as a striker in the class of Erling Haaland as he backed the England captain to break his Qatar World Cup scoring duck.

England have reached the last-16 stage without needing a goal from their skipper, taking seven points from their group games and scoring nine times in the process, with both totals unsurpassed at this tournament.

For Kane not to have netted any of those goals is a surprise, but he has three assists to his name, more than any other player across the group stage, and is contributing in important ways without putting the ball in the net.

Four years ago in Russia, Kane's six goals made him the Golden Boot winner, and he may yet hit a hot streak of form in the coming fortnight.

Whether he does or not, Stones is in no doubt as to the quality of England's number nine.

Asked whether Kane is a player of the same calibre as Haaland, who is a club-mate of Stones at Manchester City, the England defender suggested they were of comparable quality.

"Definitely yeah, it's difficult to obviously say. Erling's so new to our league and Harry has been playing in it all his life pretty much," Stones said.

"Players like those two, their quality always shines through. Maybe they do say 'does he need a rest or not?', [but] we never think like that.

"I think players that usually are scoring like Harry and want to score, you all saw his assist the other day was incredible, but those sort of players are a massive team player as well.

"The things that don't get spoken about, the positioning, the headers from corners that us as defenders appreciate massively, and what he brings to the team as a leader and as a person, as a presence, can outweigh sometimes what happens or the outcome of things."

That reckoning of Kane's diverse qualities is why England's players are not getting at the captain to find his scoring touch, ahead of Sunday's last-16 tussle with Senegal. All in good time, appears to be the message.


Haaland and Kane have both been prolific already in the Premier League this season, netting 18 and 12 goals so far for City and Tottenham respectively to sit first and second in the scoring charts.

While Haaland is missing out on the World Cup action because Norway failed to qualify, Kane has the chance to guide England to glory, a year after they finished runners-up at the European Championship.

Again looking at Haaland and Kane, Stones said: "They are both incredible players and incredible within their own rights as well.

"Harry's always been incredible with me, incredible to play with, and I'm sure he will get on the scoresheet soon."

Erling Haaland wishes he was able to play in the World Cup in Qatar, and has named Brazil and England among the teams he thinks could win it.

Haaland will not be present as Norway failed to qualify, finishing third in their group behind the Netherlands and Turkey, so the Manchester City striker will have some time off before domestic football in England resumes in late December.

The 22-year-old has scored 23 goals in 18 games in all competitions for City since joining from Borussia Dortmund earlier in the year, and says he will not overdo his training during the enforced break.

"I wished I played in the World Cup of course, but that's the reality now [that] I don't do [that], but I will relax my body and my mind a lot and then I will train," Haaland told Sky Sports.

"What I will train on? Nothing special I think, it's been going quite well my first months at City, so I don't need to do so many changes to be honest.

"It's about preparing myself for the next half of the season and be ready when the next game kicks in after the break."

When asked who he believes will win the World Cup, Haaland said: "I think the favourites should be Brazil, Argentina, France, and maybe England. I cannot only say one because there are so many good teams."

Haaland was only able to play in six of Norway's World Cup qualifiers, but he scored five goals before adding another six in six games in the Nations League, and the striker wants his country to qualify for future major tournaments.

"The biggest thing we can do is to get to either a World Cup or a Euros," he said. "That of course is my goal with the national team to do. We know it's difficult, but hopefully in the future one day I'll be able to play there."

Erling Haaland has been subject of a tongue-in-cheek loan bid from non-league Ashton United while Manchester City break for the World Cup.

FIFA's global tournament starts on Sunday in Qatar and leaves a schedule gap for the Premier League as elite-level club football pauses for the action in the Middle East.

Haaland will not be going to the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify, and seventh-tier side Ashton have lodged an offer to keep one of Europe's most prolific talisman fit throughout the break.

"It just makes sense," Michael Clegg told the Northern Premier League Premier Division side's website.

"City aren't playing, and we want to help by keeping Erling fit. It makes more sense than him playing golf for six weeks.

"We think he will be a great fit for us and would slot in with our squad dynamic really well."

The Norway striker has scored 18 top-flight goals this season since leaving Borussia Dortmund, with a further five in cup competitions taking him to 23 strikes.

City manager Pep Guardiola suggested Haaland would be allowed some time to rest before returning to training in early December.

While Ashton are based just over six miles away from City's Etihad Stadium, Clegg's side are keenly awaiting a response from City's delegates as to Haaland's interest in nearby non-league football.

"The club are yet to receive any response from Manchester City," the statement on the website added.

City are not back in Premier League action until a visit to Leeds United on December 28, six days after a crunch fourth-round EFL Cup tie at home to rivals Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola joked both he and Jurgen Klopp will need to play for Manchester City and Liverpool when the sides meet after the World Cup.

The Premier League rivals will meet for the third time this season, having faced off in the Community Shield and the top-flight already, with the Reds victorious on both occasions, when they play each other in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.

But their next encounter will come immediately in the shadow of Qatar 2022, with the tie set to take place only a handful of days after the World Cup final on December 18.

That has led Guardiola to suggest both managers may need to lace up their boots, while conceding he does not know how his team will look once the dust settles after the tournament.

"He's going to play at left-back," he quipped on Klopp in a press conference. "I'm going to play holding midfielder. [But] I don't know how many players we will have.

"If [their national teams] don't get through the group stages, then they will be able to play Liverpool. If not, then we will see. Players will come back, but I don't know in what condition [yet]."

Both City and Liverpool will see several key players head to Qatar with their respective nations, though a fleet of players will not be called up.

That includes those, such as Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah, whose countries have not qualified, while others like Roberto Firmino and Thiago Alcantara have not made the cut.

In the case of Haaland, Guardiola does not necessarily see the Norway international's break from action as a blessing in disguise, despite the striker's recent struggles with fitness.

"I'd prefer him to go to the World Cup," he added. "[But] unfortunately they didn't qualify. He'll recover hopefully perfectly from his injury. He'll be in Marbella or Norway, and will hopefully come back to train."

City play Brentford in the Premier League this weekend, in their final game before the mid-season break, but will be without Kyle Walker as he continues to recover from injury.

The defender was named in England's World Cup squad alongside club-mate Kalvin Phillips, who only returned to action himself in midweek, with Guardiola saying Gareth Southgate's call to take the duo to Qatar is backed by City.

"It's a decision from Gareth," he added. "One-hundred per cent, we support his decision. After Saturday, the players belong to their national team, not us. I'm not worried."

Erling Haaland may struggle to score as many goals over the rest of the season as opponents figure him out, says former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha.

The Norway international has enjoyed a blistering start to life at the Etihad Stadium, with 23 goals across all competitions since arriving from Borussia Dortmund.

That includes 18 in the Premier League alone, putting him firmly on course to smash the competition's record single-season tally of 34 with not even half the campaign gone.

But while Onuoha, who played for City between 2004 and 2012, thinks it likely he could rack up an all-time feat, he warns the Leeds-born attacker will likely face sterner opposition following the mid-season break.

"It's very possible," he told Stats Perform. "But I think it gets harder the more time that passes in terms of being in the league, because people know how you operate.

"They know they have to have get a better idea of how to stop you, because City with a six-foot four striker is a different look for most teams that played against them for the last six or seven years under [Pep] Guardiola.

"It's possible if he stays available and City stay dominant. But football is very difficult, especially in the second half of [a] season, where you start to run out of time.

"The moment you start running out of time, the desperation kicks in, and things which maybe would have been easier in the first half of the season [are] a bit more difficult."

Onuoha feels Haaland has shown he can cope with the pressure amid a lightning start, firing City into the thick of another title race, though the ex-defender also praised Arsenal amid their own surprise charge

"There's going to be so many more eyes on him because he [is] one of the biggest players in world football, not necessarily the Premier League," he added. "He's a talent who's going to bring eyeballs. He's been exceptional.

"But I have to give credit to Arsenal, I think Arsenal has been incredible. They've dropped five points up to this moment. And in those games, they've looked really good.

"It's very entertaining. Whatever we see now, there's no guarantee this is how it will finish. I think that's what makes it so special."

Real Madrid are looking to Serie A for their next striker, with Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Milan's Rafael Leao interesting the Spanish giants.

Osimhen, 23, arrived at Napoli after a club-record €70million transfer from Lille in 2020 and quickly adapted to life in Italy.

Leao, who is the same age, was Osimhen's team-mate at Lille back in 2019 before being pried away to Milan. He was spectacular last campaign in helping Milan to their first Serie A title since the 2010-11 season, scoring a career-high 11 league goals, and has hit form this term, too.



According to Calciomercato, the only thing standing between Madrid and "another nine-figure investment" in one of Serie A's leading lights is the contract of 31-year-old winger Eden Hazard.

Forbes reports Hazard is making approximately €500,000 per week, and if Madrid can find a taker for him in January, or at the end of the season, their financial flexibility will vastly improve.

Come January, Leao will have 18 months remaining on his contract, and with numerous reports that negotiations for an extension have made little progress, Milan will eventually have to entertain the likelihood of a sale.

Osimhen has an extra year on top of that, tying him to Napoli until 2025 and giving the club plenty of leverage in any potential sale.


– The Evening Standard is reporting Chelsea have held multiple meetings with 16-year-old Palmeiras prospect Endrick, who is also a target for Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. He will not be allowed to leave for Europe until he turns 18 in 2024.

– According to TeamTalk, Tottenham are looking to replace goalkeeper and club captain Hugo Lloris.

West Ham and Leicester City are interested in 28-year-old Inter left-back Robin Gosens, per Gazzetta dello Sport. 

– Sport is reporting Juventus are willing to meet the contract demands of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, with the Italy international demanding €13.6m per year.

Barcelona are considering a move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who they view as a potential replacement for Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Pep Guardiola is unsure if Erling Haaland will feature against Chelsea, but midfielder Kalvin Phillips will be part of the squad for Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round tie.

Haaland returned from a two-game injury absence as a second-half substitute against Fulham at the weekend and scored a late penalty to snatch a 2-1 victory for his side.

However, the Norway international – who boasts 23 goals in 17 appearances for City – has still not fully recovered from the foot injury and may sit out the visit of Chelsea.

"He is still not perfect," Guardiola said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference. "We'll see tomorrow [Wednesday] and on Saturday [against Brentford]. He is getting better. 

"What's important is the bone isn't broken so there's no damage, just the ligament is damaged a bit. It's not perfect right now, but in one week or 10 days anything can happen."

Haaland is expected to be called up by Norway for this month's friendlies with Republic of Ireland and Finland, but Guardiola says that will depend on the striker's fitness.

"If he feels good, to play for the national team is important for the players," Guardiola said. "I have no problem for players when they are fit to play for the national team."

Wednesday's match will come too soon for England defender Kyle Walker, who remains a World Cup doubt, but international colleague Phillips will be available.

Phillips has played just 13 minutes since joining from Leeds United during the close season, owing to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Despite his lack of playing time, the midfielder remains hopeful of being included as part of Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, which will be named on Thursday.

Asked if he believes Phillips will be ready to play a part for England in Qatar, Guardiola said: "That is up to Gareth Southgate. I cannot answer, I don't know what the plan is. 

"I think they are communicating with the physios and doctors – the club and the English national team. Apart from that I cannot answer you, I don't know."

City have won the EFL Cup four times under Guardiola and advanced from each of their past nine third-round ties in the competition, scoring 34 goals in that period.

Meanwhile, Guardiola's side have won 10 of their past 14 home matches against Chelsea in all competitions, most recently winning 1-0 in the league in January.

City are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League and are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League, with the FA Cup set to start in two months' time.

However, in a week his side posted an annual profit of £41.7million, up from £2.4m in the previous year, Guardiola insists he is not looking to strengthen in the January window.

"We are not going to do that," he said. "We have the squad we have, we are pleased and that's all."

Erling Haaland described his stoppage-time penalty against Fulham as "one of the most nervous moments of my life" as he fired home to send Manchester City top of the Premier League.

The Norwegian's successful spot-kick gave City a 2-1 home victory on Saturday after they played over 64 minutes with 10 men due to Joao Cancelo's red card.

Haaland, who began on the bench after missing two games with a foot injury, replaced Julian Alvarez in the 64th minute and had a goal disallowed for a tight offside before holding his nerve from 12 yards at the death.

Alvarez had given City the lead with a thumping finish, but when Cancelo knocked Harry Wilson to the floor in the 26th minute to give Fulham a penalty and earn himself a red card, the game changed.

Andreas Pereira levelled from the spot, and City were not as freewheeling in their attacking after that.

However, having Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne gave them hope, and although a Haaland header from De Bruyne's cross was chalked off, it was that combination that brought about the winner.

De Bruyne was tripped, and Haaland stepped up, just about beating Bernd Leno as his powerful strike to the bottom-left corner was almost kept out by the Fulham goalkeeper.

Haaland's reaction spoke volumes, as he said: "Fantastic. I was nervous. It was one of the most nervous moments of my life, but fantastic.

"A penalty in the last minute, of course I would be nervous. But it was an amazing feeling. I don't care how it went in, it is about it going in. I love it. I have been injured for a week, and it is really important to win."

The former Borussia Dortmund marksman, quoted on City's official website, said Pep Guardiola's team showed their true colours by battling to the end to snatch the points.

Heading into Sunday's games, it meant City held a one-point cushion over Arsenal, who faced a tricky trip to Chelsea.

Haaland said: "When you go 10 v 11 for 70 minutes, it is difficult; I don't think any team would do it as good as we did it today."

He has scored 16 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances, matching the most goals by any player in a 10-game period in the competition, previously achieved in 2013 by Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

The 22-year-old Haaland added: "I am so tired, but so happy. You have no idea."

Erling Haaland saved the day for Manchester City and spared Joao Cancelo's blushes as the striker's last-gasp penalty secured a 2-1 win over Fulham in the Premier League.

Cancelo had left City short-handed after an embarrassing red card, which came shortly after Julian Alvarez gave the Etihad Stadium hosts a deserved early lead.

City were seeking a 13th consecutive win against Fulham across all competitions, yet their hopes nosedived soon after the opener when Cancelo was ordered off for a poor challenge on Harry Wilson, handing Fulham a spot-kick that Andreas Pereira tucked away.

Fulham were moments away from a point, but then Kevin De Bruyne was tripped by Antonee Robinson and a second penalty of the game was awarded. Substitute Haaland's kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time was almost saved by Bernd Leno, but the ball squirmed under the goalkeeper, sending City above Arsenal at the top of the table.

Alvarez headed wide from a decent chance in the third minute after a delicious cross from De Bruyne. De Bruyne then had a typically scorching 20-yard drive tipped over the bar by Bernd Leno before Fulham gained any sort of foothold.

A mauling looked on the cards, and Alvarez thrashed in the opener off the underside of the bar in the 17th minute after Ilkay Gundogan's pass set him clear.

John Stones had a tap-in disallowed for offside, but the game changed in the 25th minute when Cancelo was red-carded for an absurdly lazy barge in the penalty area on Wilson, with Pereira slotting the spot-kick past Ederson.

Ten-man City remained dominant, yet half-chances came and went before Pep Guardiola summoned Haaland and Phil Foden from the bench in the 64th minute.

Haaland shot wide from a difficult opportunity, but then his moment looked to have come in the 74th minute, with De Bruyne's delivery from the left a thing of beauty and the striker's close-range header just deadly.

Yet the substitute was marginally offside, the VAR verdict saving Fulham. Just as they looked set to cling on for a valued point, the foul on De Bruyne and Haaland's cool head tilted the game back City's way.

Erling Haaland was set for a Premier League return off the bench as he was named as a substitute for Manchester City's clash with Fulham on Saturday.

The prolific Norwegian missed last week's 1-0 win at Leicester City, as well as Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League victory over Sevilla, after suffering a foot injury.

With 17 goals in his first 11 Premier League appearances, and 22 goals across all competitions already, the former Borussia Dortmund striker has made a flying start to his time in England.

Manager Pep Guardiola was determined not to rush Haaland back, and said on Friday the 22-year-old would be assessed after a final training session before a decision was made on his involvement.

Guardiola said it was clear Haaland was "much better".

For the visit of Fulham, Guardiola judged it prudent to hand Haaland a limited role, starting instead with Julian Alvarez as his main striker, supported by the likes of Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne.

City's bench was stacked with quality for the clash with the Cottagers, with Haaland joined by players including Ruben Dias, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.

Fulham, meanwhile, were without their leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, with the club citing "ankle pain" as the reason for his absence.

Such is the instantaneous nature of social media that one miss, one innocuous incident can see a player written off as a "fraud" or "finished".

It's up to every one of us how much importance we tie to those individual comments. Maybe they're jokes, maybe they're serious. But when you see thousands of likes or retweets on them, you get a picture of how widespread these quick judgements are, and in that sense it doesn't really matter if they were in jest or not.

This isn't to say we didn't use to be like this, the difference is now many of us have at our fingertips an outlet that reaches thousands of people within seconds.

Darwin Nunez came in for such treatment in pre-season. During a meaningless friendly against Manchester United, the Uruguayan missed a big chance and quickly became the target of ridicule on social media.

Granted, he had recently been signed for a lot of money, but the hysteria – given the game had nothing riding on it – was remarkable. For what it's worth, he scored four in one match nine days later.

Since then, a lot of column inches have been dedicated to Nunez, which is a bit fairer now the season's in full flow.

One thing many agree about is how the striker appears to be one of the most chaotic footballers in existence, but this shouldn't cloud what he's doing well. He's raw, but if you scrape away the surface, the signs for Nunez and Liverpool are very promising.

Untapped potential

Jurgen Klopp hit the nail on the head last week when talking about Nunez's potential. In his eyes, the 23-year-old potentially has an "incredible" ceiling, but he acknowledged there was still so much work for the striker to put in that it was unclear how good he'll eventually become.

"Nobody knows, he doesn't know. Nobody knows, there is a lot [of potential] and it is so exciting, but he has to stay fit, he has to be available all the time," Klopp said. "That's all important in the life of a professional football player. We have to work on all different areas. Then, the potential is incredible. It's not only speed, the attitude is really good, he is a real worker.

"Again, I tell you – and I know there are some people out there who think, 'Technically, not sure, first touch...' – it is incredible. That he doesn't bring it on the pitch all the time, the first touch might be here or there sometimes, is nothing to do with technique, it is just a bit too late, awareness, orientation and all these kind of things, but it is all possible to develop and to learn. That's where we are at, it's really exciting, but where it can go, I have no idea."

There was always going to be scrutiny for Nunez because of the transfer fee, but would there have been as much were it not for Erling Haaland's ridiculous start? Probably not, as they were brought in around the same time and both considered by many as the so-called final pieces of the puzzle for their respective teams.

As the past few months have shown, Haaland is a phenomenon, that's not up for debate. But Nunez taking a little more time to truly settle doesn't make him any less promising than he was deemed at Benfica.

In fact, you could argue his output has exceeded expectations at this point.

Darwin's evolution

"His numbers are incredible, to be absolutely honest," Klopp also said of Nunez last week. "If you speak about xGs [expected goals], I am pretty sure his xGs are pretty high as well. He had a few chances which he missed, but he scored as well. He is involved in a lot of finishing moments, a lot of things."

Klopp is correct here – the data firmly backs him up. While Nunez's tally of three Premier League goals doesn't sound much, we shouldn't forget he's already served a three-match ban for getting sent off against Crystal Palace. His record of 0.6 goals every 90 minutes is bettered by only seven players.

With that in mind, Nunez's 432 Premier League minutes is fairly low, but he's managed to pack a lot of action into that limited period – hence the "chaotic" appraisal earlier.

He ranks inside the top 10 for goal involvements per 90 minutes (0.8) and minutes per goal (144), but it's in the shooting metrics where Nunez's productivity really shines through.

No one is registering more attempts on a per-90-minute basis than Nunez (6.7), while only Haaland (2.6) is getting more shots on target than the Uruguay forward (2.5) each game.

But perhaps crucially, and back to Klopp's point, his non-penalty xG (per 90) is 0.76, only fractionally behind Haaland's league-best 0.81.

Of course, the issue here is Nunez isn't finishing as many chances as the average player would be expected to given the quality of the openings, while Haaland has been exceptionally ruthless with his opportunities.

But it would be more concerning if he wasn't getting chances at all.

Nunez's struggles could be explained by any number of factors such as confidence, adaptation, the roles he's being asked to play, maybe even a desperate need to impress, and that might explain some of his more erratic decision-making.

But the expectation is that with time and composure Nunez's figures will eventually level up with his xG. On the evidence of his attributes until now, when they do, Liverpool will have an exceptional striker on their hands.

Pep Guardiola issued a sarcastic response to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's claim the Manchester City manager's ego could hold Erling Haaland back, joking he was "jealous" of his striker.

Haaland has scored 17 goals in his first 11 Premier League appearances, making light of suggestions he could struggle to adapt to Guardiola's style of play.

However, Ibrahimovic – who famously failed to connect with Guardiola when working with him at Barcelona – has suggested the City boss would not take kindly to Haaland's incredible exploits.

Speaking to Canal+, Ibrahimovic said: "Can Guardiola make Haaland even stronger? It depends on Guardiola's ego, if he lets him become bigger than him or not. He didn't let me get bigger."

Those comments were put to Guardiola at a press conference looking ahead to Saturday's Premier League meeting with Fulham, provoking a satirical reply from the City boss.

"He's right. He's completely right," Guardiola sarcastically said. "In this club, in this team, my ego is beyond the performance of the players. 

"I don't like it when Erling scores three goals and all the highlights are for him. I'm so jealous, honestly. So jealous. I said afterward: 'Please, Erling, don't score any more goals'. 

"I want The Sun, The Daily Mail to talk about me. He's right. He knows me perfectly."

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