Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is looking forward to Sunday's trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool, allowing some key players to rest during Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw against FC Copenhagen.

City were bright early and had chances to take the lead, with a disallowed goal in the 11th minute and a saved penalty from Riyad Mahrez in the 25th, before Sergio Gomez was shown a straight red card that changed the game.

After controlling 66 per cent of the possession in a comfortable first half, that figure dipped to 46 per cent after the break as Copenhagen found a foothold into the game and fought hard for their point.

Speaking after the match, where star striker Erling Haaland was rested and starting midfielders Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva were only used as late substitutes, Guardiola said the compressed schedule with multiple games per week had finally started to catch up to some players.

"Many players didn’t start today because they were really, really, exhausted, tired and fatigued and had some niggles," he said.

"Erling [Haaland] didn’t feel very good after the game against Southampton, Phil [Foden] had some problems, Bernardo [Silva] was so tired yesterday, he told us. 

"The players, they feel better and I of course, didn’t want to take a risk. Of course, it was so important, but when we have nine points already in our pocket, we need one more game to qualify mathematically, ok we took one point, we played for that and we started really well. 

"We cannot deny how well we played for the first minutes, knowing that it’s difficult. Their defence is so deep and well-organised and after that, those situations, the goal disallowed, the penalty, the sending off, the game changed, especially playing almost for an hour 10 against 11."

When asked if this is a perfect time to face Liverpool – coming off a loss to Arsenal and with one fewer day of rest after they play Rangers on Wednesday – Guardiola said form goes out the window in fixtures this big.

"It’s the scale of the fixture when you have to go to Anfield," he said. "It’s not about how you arrive, good or bad, you have to perform every time. 

"We have four days [to prepare] – we travel right now, tomorrow we have regeneration, one day off, clear our minds, because for one or two weeks we’ve not had a day off with a game every three days, and after that we’ll prepare the game against Liverpool."

Mats Hummels lauded Jude Bellingham's leadership after the Borussia Dortmund midfielder replicated the feats of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe in a 1-1 draw with Sevilla.

Dortmund fell behind to Tanguy Nianzou's goal on Tuesday, but Bellingham cancelled out that strike by turning home Thomas Meunier's cross to score in a fourth consecutive Champions League game.

In doing so, Bellingham became just the third teenager to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances after Mbappe (in 2017) and Haaland (2019) – the latter of whom did so in five successive games.

Bellingham's return of four Champions League goals is also a new single-season record for an English teenager, beating Wayne Rooney's benchmark of three in the 2004-05 campaign.

Although the draw represented a frustrating result for BVB, Hummels showered praise on Bellingham, telling Amazon Prime: "Jude always wants to win. In training, in every game. He invests a lot. I think we all love this boy. 

"The fact that at the age of 19, he sometimes has to channel certain energies that I would still like to have, is completely normal. 

"But seriously, if someone - who has played every minute this season - tries to win every minute, to invest for the team, then he's allowed to complain. 

"I'd rather have someone like him who complains five times than someone who doesn't say anything at all. Then he can sometimes make wrong decisions, it doesn't matter."

Although Dortmund hold a five-point advantage over Sevilla in Group G, Hummels was irritated by a meek display which saw them register just seven shots totalling 0.37 expected goals.

"It wasn't a good game for us," Hummels added. "After half-time we lost at least 20 balls easily, unnecessarily leaving the game completely open against an insecure team.

"We didn't have enough game intelligence. I'm sorry, but Sevilla are very unsettled. They were happy with the 1-1 here, we didn't manage to build up any more pressure with the ball. 

"Football is actually a very simple game, but we always make it complicated for ourselves."

Erling Haaland was named among Manchester City's substitutes for Tuesday's Champions League tie against Copenhagen in a rare rest for the prolific striker ahead of next weekend's showdown with Liverpool.

The Norway international had started all 13 of City's matches since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, scoring a remarkable 20 goals and breaking a number of records along the way.

However, Pep Guardiola left Haaland out of his starting line-up to face Copenhagen as one of five changes from the 4-0 win over Southampton at the weekend.

Julian Alvarez was brought into the side to lead the attack – just his third start of the season – while  Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Gomez, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish were also recalled.

Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva joined Haaland in dropping to the bench at the Parken Stadium, with City operating in a 4-3-3 formation.

City entered the match in the Danish capital knowing a fourth win out of four in Group G would send them through to the knockout phase with two matches to spare.

Guardiola's men turn focus back to Premier League matters on Sunday with a trip to out-of-form Liverpool, who have been their perennial rivals for the title over the past four years.

Copenhagen XI: Grabara; Lund, Khocholava, Boilesen; Jelert, Stamenic, Lerager, Kristiansen; Claesson, Haraldsson, Daramy.
Subs: Johnsson, Ryan, Diks, Sorensen, Johanneson, Mukairu, Ankersen, Clem, Roony.

Manchester City XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Akanji, Laporte, Gomez; Rodrigo, Gundogan (c), De Bruyne; Mahrez, Grealish, Alvarez.
Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Dias, Ake, Haaland, Silva, Foden, Palmer, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand.

Real Madrid great Raul ranks Clasico rivals Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski alongside Erling Haaland as the best strikers in world football.

And with the campaign's first meeting between Madrid and Barcelona coming on Sunday, Raul hopes Benzema will outdo Lewandowski at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid and Barca are level on 22 points in LaLiga after eight matches, with an enthralling title race seemingly in store after Los Blancos triumphed by 13 points last term. 

The arrival of Lewandowski has been key to Barca's re-emergence, with the Poland international scoring nine times in his first eight outings in LaLiga.  

Lewandowski's ominous start to life in Spain suggests he is likely to surpass Benzema's league-high tally of 27 league goals from last season.

Raul is full of admiration for both players, ranking them alongside Haaland – the leading scorer in Europe's top five leagues with 20 goals already to his name for Manchester City – but naturally Madrid talisman Benzema will get the 45-year-old's backing.

"They are possibly the best strikers, with Haaland. They are the ones who have the most scoring ability and contribute the most to their teams," said Raul, who is now head coach of Real Madrid Castilla.

"Lewandowski is a great signing for LaLiga, he is showing his quality. But I hope that the battle of scorers on Sunday will be won by Benzema.


"I see it as a very exciting game, as always. They both arrive with the same points. It's too early [to judge], because it's in October. Whoever wins will be able to come out stronger mentally. 

"It will be a very demanding game and Madrid, playing at home and being with their people, have a bit of favouritism."

Benzema overtook Raul to go second in Madrid's all-time scoring charts in August, though his tally of 327 goals remains some way short of Cristiano Ronaldo's record haul (450). 

Meanwhile, Raul's 15 goals in meetings between Madrid and Barcelona has only been bettered by three players – Lionel Messi (26), Alfredo Di Stefano and Ronaldo (both 18).

With Raul cutting his coaching teeth in Madrid's youth system, his ambition is to take charge of the senior side in a future Clasico.

He added: "I would like to, but now I am very happy where I am, working with my boys. 

"I am happy and I am going to enjoy it as a fan, wanting us to achieve those three points that will not define anything, but will give more confidence and morale to the winner."

Both teams have Champions League fixtures to focus on before Sunday's meeting, with Madrid facing Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday before Xavi's men host Inter the following day.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane "must be sick" of seeing Erling Haaland regularly break goal records at Manchester City, according to Rio Ferdinand.

Haaland, who joined from Borussia Dortmund in June, made it 20 goals in just 13 appearances for City with his strike against Southampton on Saturday.

The Norway international has scored 15 of those goals in the Premier League, which is seven more than next-best Kane, who has himself made a fast start to the season.

However, it would have been Kane leading the line for City had Pep Guardiola's side been able to reach an agreement with Tottenham for his services last year.

City instead held out for 12 months to sign Haaland from Dortmund, and Ferdinand says the 22-year-old's form must be galling for Kane.

"If I were City before Haaland came, I would have taken Kane," Ferdinand said on the FIVE podcast on his YouTube channel. 

"Kane's a goalscorer, he's a killer, as cold as you get. In any era he scores goals. I think he would have been brilliant at Man City. 

"If I'm him, I'm absolutely puking up in my own mouth and trying not to swallow it when I'm watching Haaland now. I'm thinking that could have been me."

Haaland's 15 goals is four more than any other player after nine matches in Premier League's history, followed by Mick Quinn (11 with Coventry City in the 1992-93 season).

He is scoring at a rate of one goal every 50 minutes – again a competition record among those to have scored at least 10 times. 

City great Sergio Aguero is next on the list with a goal every 108 minutes, while Kane's 191 goals in 291 appearances (127 mins per goal) places him a respectable fifth.

Guardiola suggested in February that City made four separate attempts to sign Kane, but they were unable to meet Tottenham's reported £150million asking price.

"That was a moment for Harry Kane to go and say 'what I've done at Tottenham can never be discredited, it's my home, it's my place of love'," Ferdinand said. 

"No one would have been disgruntled if he went to City. It was there for the taking. I don't know how it happened from all parties. He must be sick.

"If I'm Kane I'm sitting there going wild. I know he could end up with a trophy this year. 

"But sitting watching he'll be like 'look at what City are doing right now and Haaland is just eating people. I could have been the guy on the end of all those chances'."

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly prepared to activate the €150million release clause in the contract of Milan forward Rafael Leao.

Leao, 23, has emerged as one of the top attacking players in the Serie A since arriving for €35million back in 2019, tallying a career-high 14 goals in all club competitions in the 2021-22 season before starting this campaign in blistering form.

The Portuguese star with 11 international caps has four goals and four assists from his first eight league games, as well as three assists from three Champions League fixtures, and it seems Paris Saint-Germain have seen enough to justify a substantial investment.


French outlet Media Foot is reporting Paris Saint-Germain will return with bids for multiple big names they were unable to land in the past transfer window, and they could come in January.

The report mentions Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Luis Campos was responsible for bringing Leao to Lille in 2018, and as a result he has been monitoring the young talent for years.

With the futures of Lionel Messi and Neymar uncertain, Leao could represent the future of the club going forward, with Kylian Mbappe, and he is not the only big-money target mentioned in the report.

Paris Saint-Germain are said to also be returning with another offer to Inter for Milan Skriniar, and remain interested in Manchester City's Bernardo Silva.


– Sky Sports Germany is reporting Real Madrid have plans to replace Karim Benzema with City star Erling Haaland in 2024.

– According to The Independent, Manchester United are only going to make a move for one of Jude Bellingham or Frenkie de Jong, with the target yet to be decided.

– Liverpool's Naby Keita is a target for Barcelona, with the 27-year-old's contract set to expire at the end of this season.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli is demanding his wages be tripled before he agrees to a new contract.

– According to The i, Newcastle United are preparing bids for Leicester City midfielder James Maddison and Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby.

Pep Guardiola credited Erling Haaland for his rapid adaptation to Manchester City's style of play, claiming the Norwegian has become more involved in their build-up in recent weeks.

Haaland has scored 20 goals in just 13 appearances for City since his move from Borussia Dortmund, including five in three Champions League outings.

The Norwegian hit a brace in a 5-0 home victory over Copenhagen in the competition last week and will likely play a central role when City look to confirm their place in the knockout stages by winning Tuesday's return fixture in Denmark. 

Speaking on the eve of that game, Guardiola compared Haaland's recent displays to his first few outings with City, hailing the 22-year-old for improving his all-round contribution. 

Asked how Haaland had adapted to City's style, Guardiola said: "If this happened, it works so far. Of course, we adapt a little bit, he adapts… we got to know each other on and off the pitch.

"But he settled perfectly and quickly because he's a nice guy, he understands things quickly. We know we have an incredible threat with him, and at the same time he knows what he has to do. When this happens, situations come easily.

"He's absolutely one of the best, no doubt about that. I had many strikers, they were all very, very good and Erling is one of them. The numbers speak for themselves.

"At an early age, how many goals he has in the Champions League, in Norway, Austria, Germany and now England… I speak a lot about him, but sometimes I should not say anything and just look at the numbers, it would be enough.

"Against Bournemouth [in August], I remember he was not involved much in the game, now he's much, much more involved, not just to score the goals. 

"We know when he arrives in the final third or the box, he has a special instinct to know where the ball is going to finish and put it in the net. That's why he's an exceptional striker."

Haaland has scored a remarkable 28 goals in 22 Champions League games during his career. His next goal in the competition will see him equal the tallies of David Trezeguet (in 58 appearances) and Patrick Kluivert (71 appearances).

The striker will be one of few elite players to get a prolonged break during the middle of the season, with Norway having failed to qualify for the World Cup.

However, Guardiola says the tournament will not influence any decision to rest Haaland in the future, adding: "No, I don't think about selection thinking about the World Cup. 

"The national trainers will decide how to handle the players when they get there. They don't think about us, we don't think about them. 

"[On Tuesday], I'm going to decide the selection. I have to speak with the players, the doctors and physios, and decide what's best. We'll see."

Jurgen Klopp hopes Mohamed Salah is close to "exploding" into a rich vein of goalscoring form, but believes comparisons with Manchester City talisman Erling Haaland are unfair.

Salah shared the Premier League's Golden Boot with Son Heung-min after scoring 23 goals in the competition last term, but has only found the net twice in seven outings this season.

The Egyptian's diminishing returns have mirrored those of his team, with Liverpool sitting 13 points behind City – with a game in hand – ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal.

Haaland's arrival has taken City to new heights this campaign, with the Norwegian hitting 15 goals in his first nine Premier League games, and Klopp believes any comparisons with Salah would be unhelpful.

"With Mo, I hope it's like us, we are close to exploding," Klopp said. "Whose season was it yet? From our side, nobody.

"Mo is like this, even when his goalscoring numbers aren't crazy, often he's involved, it's just the problem that if you don't score around that, nobody appreciates that.

"Nobody in the world can cope with the [Erling] Haaland situation, it's crazy what he's doing. 

"He's an exceptional player in an exceptional team and I don't think we should compare anyone with that at the moment.

"Mo wants to score goals desperately, 100 per cent, that will never change. Call him in 20 years, it will be the same."

Liverpool approach their trip to the Emirates Stadium having recorded two draws and one defeat in their first three away outings of the Premier League campaign.

Not since 2010-11, under Roy Hodgson, have Liverpool failed to win any of their first four away league games in a single season.

Meanwhile, Saturday represented the seventh anniversary of Klopp's appointment at Liverpool, and the German left each of his two previous posts – at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund – before bringing up an eighth year at the helm.

Klopp, however, insisted Liverpool's struggles have nothing in common with those of his former clubs, saying: "The situation in the clubs was very different. 

"A seven-year spell was not planned or because I lost energy or these things. I was manager at Mainz and after three years, we got promoted to the Bundesliga then three years later we got relegated.

"We tried one more year and the club needed a change. Players left us for the Bundesliga, so they needed a fresh start, definitely.

"I was full of energy. I went directly to Dortmund and it was all fine. [It was] seven years and it was just a situation that players constantly got bought by other clubs.

"It was a really hard job to do, instead of developing a team, constantly making two steps back. It was really intense and really exhausting.  

"I can understand that I left after seven years, and now we are in a difficult situation, but, if you think twice about it, you realise the situation is completely different.

"Being here for seven years is intense, no doubt about it. But it's nice as well, I got so many things back. If there's one club that has a chance to go through it together, it's us."

Riyad Mahrez declared Erling Haaland is "on fire" and Pep Guardiola labelled the new Manchester City talisman "an incredible weapon" after the striker scored once more against Southampton.

Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden and Mahrez all struck past former City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu on Saturday, before Haaland coolly converted in the 65th minute to cap a 4-0 victory.

That marked his 15th Premier League goal in just nine games this season, as many strikes as Kevin De Bruyne managed in the entire last campaign when he finished as City's top league scorer in a championship-winning team.

Mahrez hailed his Norwegian team-mate after Haaland became just the second City player to score in seven successive Premier League appearances, after Sergio Aguero.

"It was a difficult game, we made it easy by scoring early and then we controlled," the Algeria international told BBC Sport.

"We had a lot of chances to score more, but we didn't. We didn't concede much, it was a controlled game.

"Haaland is part of our team, he is our striker. Like any other striker, if we can find him it's perfect because he is on fire. If not, there are a lot of players and everyone can make a difference."

City have now won their last nine home league games, scoring at least three goals each time, and moved to the top-flight summit by overtaking Arsenal, who play Liverpool on Sunday.

Manager Guardiola echoed the sentiments of Mahrez as he credited the exploits of free-scoring Haaland, while he pinpointed the early stages of the title race as significant heading towards the World Cup break in November.

"Last season we suffered a lot against them, but today we were much better," Guardiola told BBC Sport, referring to two league draws last term against Southampton.

"Some players were not at their best, but we create a lot of chances. We were solid.

"For a long time Phil Foden is playing really good. The impact from him is great. Erling Haaland had the chances again. He scored a brilliant goal. It's an incredible weapon for us, a big threat.

"We will see the result from Arsenal and Liverpool, always in Premier League there are good games. Being close to the top of the league is important going into the World Cup."

By contrast, Southampton have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 19 Premier League away games – the longest current league run and the worst such streak in Saints' history in the competition.

Southampton sit just a point above the relegation zone, leading to increasing speculation that Ralph Hasenhuttl will be dismissed.

"I will not be here next week, because next week we play at home," manager Hasenhuttl said when asked about his future. "It is not my decision to make.

"Since I've come here, and it's been nearly four years now, we have been fighting for results. The problem is not here today, it's from other weeks where we did not get enough points."

Erling Haaland continued his remarkable scoring run as Manchester City climbed above Arsenal at the Premier League summit after a commanding 4-0 victory over Southampton.

City soon eased into the ascendancy at Etihad Stadium as Joao Cancelo and Manchester derby hat-trick hero Phil Foden struck in a first half where a tepid Southampton offered little.

Riyad Mahrez stretched the advantage after the break before Haaland collected his 15th league goal, as many as Kevin De Bruyne managed when finishing as City's top scorer in the competition last term.

Pep Guardiola's team moved two points clear of Arsenal, who play Liverpool on Sunday, after their ninth straight home win in the league, scoring at least three goals in each of those games.


Former City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu parried away a fizzing Mahrez half-volley, while Haaland struck the left post after a Foden throughball in a frantic start.

Cancelo broke the deadlock in the 20th minute as he twisted past James Ward-Prowse before drilling a left-footed strike past Bazunu, who then denied Foden on the half-hour mark.

However, there was no stopping Foden shortly after as the England international delicately chipped over the onrushing Bazunu following De Bruyne's pass.

Mahrez volleyed in a third goal from Rodri's lofted cross shortly after half-time, before City had a penalty appeal turned down for what they thought was a Mohammed Salisu pull on Haaland.

Southampton could not keep Haaland quiet for much longer, with their new talisman converting into the bottom-left corner in the 65th minute after Cancelo's cutback.

What does it mean? City dominant as Saints away woes continue

A 6-3 humbling of Manchester United and a 5-0 victory in Europe over Copenhagen were backed up in dominant fashion by City against Southampton, with Guardiola's side showing no signs of relenting.

While a tougher task will follow at Anfield against Liverpool next week, City continue to sweep aside opponents at will as they search for a fifth top-flight crown in the last six seasons.

Meanwhile, Southampton's away struggles persist, and boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is under serious pressure now. They are without a clean sheet in their last 19 Premier League away games – both the longest current run in the league and their worst such streak in the competition.

De Bruyne makes history

De Bruyne has been in incredible form throughout the start of this season and picked up yet another assist after teeing up Foden – the ninth goal the Belgium international has set up in as many Premier League games this season.

The simple throughball for Foden also marked De Bruyne's 94th assist in the Premier League for City, surpassing David Silva for the most goals created for the club in the competition.

Haaland is human

Haaland has taken to life in England with ridiculous ease, scoring 20 goals in 13 games across all competitions and breaking numerous records along the way.

After just nine Premier League games, the striker needs just one more goal to surpass City's top scorer last season, De Bruyne, which is frankly astonishing.

He missed a few chances here, though, and looked on in disbelief when his shot that rattled the left post did not bounce into the net off the upright.

What's next?

City head to Copenhagen to play in the Champions League on Tuesday, before the crunch clash at Liverpool arrives next Sunday, when Southampton host West Ham.

Erling Haaland could hit 50 Premier League goals this season if he can stay fit, according to Manchester City team-mate Manuel Akanji.

The Norway international has demolished numerous records amid an incredible start to life in England, scoring 19 goals across 12 games in all competitions this term.

Haaland netted a brace in a 5-0 midweek thrashing of Copenhagen, taking him to 28 strikes in 22 appearances in the Champions League, a goals-per-game record of 1.27.

The 22-year-old next faces Southampton on Saturday after becoming the first player in Premier League history to score hat-tricks in three straight games following his last treble against Manchester United.

With 12 goals in eight league games, Haaland will eye the single-season top-flight records of Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, who both got 34 in a single campaign, and Akanji backed his colleague to keep firing.

Asked if Haaland could hit a half-century, Akanji responded: “If he stays healthy then I think there is nothing that can stop him, yes."

City have won their past eight Premier League home games, managing at least three goals each time, and could at least temporarily leapfrog leaders Arsenal with victory over Southampton.

Pep Guardiola's side have scored 29 goals after eight games, which is the joint-most at this stage of a Premier League campaign, and will be hoping Haaland can fire again to take them to the summit.

Kyle Walker-Peters will be one Saints defender aiming to stop the free-scoring Norwegian, though he thinks it is too early to draw comparisons between the City striker and Tottenham talisman Harry Kane.

"Come on," he told talkSPORT. "Harry Kane has done it for how many years in the Premier League?

“I think Haaland has had an absolutely unbelievable start. Some of the stats I’m seeing, it’s just ridiculous.

"But Kane has proven it for God knows how many years now. I don't think we can compare them just yet. Haaland is definitely hungry to prove to people he's better than him [Kane].

"And Kane will want to stay at the top. So they'll have a good battle for top goalscorer."

Kylian Mbappe has been named football's highest earner in the world by Forbes magazine, overtaking Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi and Ronaldo had locked out the top spot since 2014, but Mbappe's new deal with Paris Saint-Germain has seen him overtake his PSG team-mate and the Manchester United star.

The France international had been linked with a move to Real Madrid as his previous deal in Paris was set to expire at the end of last season, only for him to sensationally agree to a three-year extension in May to stay at his hometown club.

Forbes' highest earners in football list also takes into account a player's earnings off the field, and Mbappe is not short of significant sponsorship deals, while also starting his own production company in the last year, Zebra Valley.

Messi and Ronaldo are in second and third place as they continue to earn plenty in the autumn years of their careers, while a third PSG player, Neymar, completes the top four.

As well as Ronaldo, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (fifth) and Manchester City duo Erling Haaland (sixth) and Kevin De Bruyne (10th) are the three other Premier League representatives on the list.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski (seventh) and Madrid's Eden Hazard (eighth) are the only two players from LaLiga.

Former Barca star Andres Iniesta is in ninth, despite leaving Europe to play in Japan in 2018.

2022 Forbes highest earners in football top 10 list

1. Kylian Mbappe - PSG: $128m (£115.2m/€130.9m)

2. Lionel Messi - PSG: $120m (£108.0m/€122.7m)

3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Man Utd: $100m (£90.0m/€102.3m)

4. Neymar - PSG: $87m (£78.3m/€88.9m)

5. Mohamed Salah - Liverpool: $53m (£47.7m/€54.2m)

6. Erling Haaland - Man City: $39m (£35.1m/€39.9m)

7. Robert Lewandowski - Barcelona: $35m (£31.5m/€35.8m)

8. Eden Hazard - Real Madrid: $31m (£27.9m/€31.7m)

9. Andres Iniesta - Vissel Kobe: $30m (£27.0m/€30.7m)

10. Kevin De Bruyne - Man City: $29m (£26.1m/€29.7m)

Pep Guardiola will never get sick of talking about Erling Haaland, but he insists comparisons to Lionel Messi are unwelcome.

The Manchester City boss has promised striker Haaland a holiday during the World Cup, because Norway have not qualified, and he may need a break in any case after a breathless start to his career in England.

Haaland has a staggering 14 goals from eight Premier League games already, and Mohamed Salah's record of 32 goals in a 38-game season already looks under serious threat. Kevin De Bruyne was City's top league scorer last season with 15.

Former Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland has stayed healthy and the goals have flowed, just as City's title rivals feared they would.

At this rate, Haaland could finish the season with the sort of haul Messi often brought in for Barcelona during his prime years, regularly scoring more than 50 across all competitions.

Guardiola has been fortunate to coach them both, and he was asked whether the attention foisted on Haaland was the most he has known since having Messi under his wing at Barcelona.

"The people who compare Erling with Leo, I think we don't help," Guardiola said. "How many 'new Messis' appeared in the world of football since I started? Ten, 15?

"Always you fail. Erling has to do his own career, his own job. He's a different player."

Guardiola pointed to the number of times he is asked about Haaland. He also suggested that within other teams, such focus on a big-time player might cause unrest.

"For me, it's OK," Guardiola said. "We're fortunate that the guys who are here accept it perfectly. At other clubs, other people, would not like it.

"Here they are delighted. We have Kevin [De Bruyne] who is an exceptional person and is happy to have him, because both know they can be better playing alongside [each other].

"The same for all of them. We don't have incredible players who say, 'Why do they always talk about just him?'.

"This is why it's a joy to train this type of players."

Guardiola said he would rather Haaland was playing at the World Cup.

"But he's young, and he'll have an opportunity in four years," added the City boss. "Fans want to see the best players possible and Erling is one of them." 

With three hat-tricks in his last three Premier League home games, capped by last week's treble against Manchester United, Haaland is on a special streak.

Southampton visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and while they held City to home and away draws last season, that was before Haaland arrived.

City are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, following Tottenham's defeat to Arsenal last week, and have won their last eight home games in the competition, scoring three or more goals each time.

Aston Villa were the last team to have a longer run of top-flight home wins while scoring three-plus goals in each game, putting a run of 13 together between December 1930 and September 1931.

Perhaps City will threaten that mark, if Haaland stays fit and in form. Guardiola is bewitched by his striker's movement and how he reads play.

"It's just the fact there's a deflection, and he's there. Why does the ball finish where he is?" said the Spaniard.

"What can I teach? It's complete instincts, it's natural. He did it in Norway, in Austria, in Germany, and he's doing it here."

And yet Guardiola still feels Haaland can improve.

"Every player knows, 'I can do better'," said Guardiola. "In our life we have a chance to always improve until we die, and he's not an exception."

Guardiola is not blind to the potential for Haaland to break records this season.

"It would be good," Guardiola said. "If he continues this rhythm, then you don't have to be a clever person to realise it, but who knows.

"After the Community Shield some people had a lot of doubts; now they have a lot of certainties.

"At the end of the season we'll see, okay, he's scored how many goals, how many chances have we had to win the titles?"

Erling Haaland's stunning form for Manchester City makes it appear as if he is playing against children, so says Kaka.

Haaland netted twice in the first half of City's Champions League 5-0 rout of Copenhagen on Wednesday, before he was taken off at the interval by Pep Guardiola.

It takes Haaland to 19 goals across all competitions in just 12 appearances this season, with the 22-year-old displaying a thoroughly ruthless intent up front.

Kaka, a Ballon d'Or winner in 2007, believes Haaland is playing at a different level to most players, like a proverbial big kid in the playground.

"It is incredible what this guy is doing," Kaka said in his capacity as a pundit on beIN SPORTS. "It seems like he's playing against kids!

"I think he can break all the records. What he's [been] doing [since] the start of the season, it is unbelievable. Congratulations to him. He's ready to play in the top level, like the Premier League.

"He played in the Bundesliga, at a high level as well. But this level in the Premier League and Champions League, it is not easy to score the number of goals he [has].

"It is nice for us to see a forward and a player like him. It is enjoyable. We enjoy it a lot, to see this kind of player."

Haaland has scored 28 goals in 22 appearances in the UEFA Champions League, a goals-per-game record of 1.27; there are 98 teams with a worse goals per game record than him in the competition.

He is also the third player to score in each of his first three Champions League appearances for an English club, after Marouane Chamakh for Arsenal and Ferran Torres for City.

Kaka's fellow pundit Ruud Gullit concurred with his assessment, stating his belief that the marriage of Haaland and City was the correct choice to strengthen both parties.

"I think he went to the right team," he added. "With the way they attack, the way they are in the box, because he doesn't want to run a lot. He just wants to be in the box.

"With his height, he wins the headers. It's almost [like he is] a mixture of three [different] players, or something like that. He is unbelievably quick.

"[He is] exceptional. [Lionel] Messi was a freak of nature, but this guy is as well. He is unbelievable."

Jack Grealish is staggered by the scoring prowess of Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland after the Norwegian added two more goals to his rapidly rising season total.

Haaland's first-half brace started City on their way to a 5-0 thrashing of Copenhagen in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, with a Davit Khocholava own goal, a Riyad Mahrez penalty and a tap-in from Julian Alvarez completing the rout.

It takes the former Borussia Dortmund striker to 19 goals from 12 games in all competitions for City this season, and Grealish lavished praise on the "humble" 22-year-old.

"It's unbelievable," Grealish said of Haaland in a post-match interview with BT Sport. "I've never witnessed anything like it in my life.

"He's just always there, he's always finishing it and it's a pleasure to play with him at the minute.

"When I was walking back after one of the goals… their keeper said something to me. I was like 'What?', and he was just like 'He's not human'... I was like 'Bro I know, you're telling me'.

"He's unbelievable, a pleasure to play with, he's so humble and great around the place and I'm not just bigging him up, that's the God's honest truth.

"Hopefully he can carry on this form and fire us to glory."

Haaland has scored 28 goals in 22 appearances in the Champions League, a goals per game record of 1.27; there are 98 teams with a worse goals per game record than him in the competition, while he is the third player to score in each of his first three appearances for an English club in the competition, after Marouane Chamakh for Arsenal and Ferran Torres for City.

Grealish had a frustrating night himself in front of goal, unable to find the net despite taking more shots than any other player (six), but he was repeatedly denied by former Liverpool academy goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.

He was a constant thorn in Copenhagen's side otherwise, and produced a run and pass for Mahrez in the build-up to Alvarez's goal.

"I'm loving it at the moment," Grealish said. "The last three or four games I've loved it, I feel back to myself, playing with that sort of freedom and playing with confidence.

"It would help if I got myself on the scoresheet, I was desperate tonight. It's all about enjoying it and winning, and that's what I’m doing at the moment."

It was not only Grealish who was denied by Grabara, who made 12 saves, the joint-most on record by any goalkeeper on their first start in the Champions League, along with Ruslan Nesheret for Dynamo Kyiv against Barcelona in November 2020 (from 2003-04 onwards).

"You know when the luck's not with you," the England international added, before asking the interviewer if the third goal was an own goal. When it was confirmed it was, Grealish joked: "So I didn't get the assist for that either."

The 27-year-old continued: "I started a lot of games recently so obviously I'm thankful to the manager for that.

"I'm enjoying it, playing football with a smile on my face, really settling in now and playing with confidence."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.