Pep Guardiola claims Erling Haaland deserves to win the Ballon d’Or – but so does Lionel Messi.

Haaland has been nominated for the coveted prize after scoring 52 goals in Manchester City’s treble-winning campaign.

Yet City boss Guardiola has always maintained his former Barcelona talisman, who inspired Argentina to World Cup success in 2022, is the best player he has ever coached.

Guardiola said: “I always said that the Ballon d’Or had to be of two sections – one for Messi and one for the others.

“Haaland should win. We won the treble because he scored 52 goals but, of course, Messi – his worst season is the best of most players. Both deserve it.

“Egotistically, I would say I want Erling because he helped us to achieve what we achieved, I would love it, but I won’t tell you it’s unfair if Leo wins.

“It’s nice that many players for Man City will be there for the first time in many years and challenging for these trophies. That makes us so proud for our organisation.”

Champions City are hoping to get back to winning ways in the Premier League this weekend after losing their two matches prior to the international break to Wolves and Arsenal.

They face a tough challenge, however, with Brighton the visitors to the Etihad Stadium, and Guardiola has been highly impressed by their performances under manager Roberto De Zerbi.

Guardiola said: “He’s converting Brighton into a top club. (Alexis) Mac Allister and (Levi) Colwill have gone but they continue to play at a good level.

“Last season was really good too. They qualified for Europe and but for some decisions against them in the last games they could fight to be champions.

“It is one of the toughest tests we have this season and we are going to try and go for it.”

City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has struggled for game time under Guardiola, this week admitted he needs to play more at club level to retain his place in the England squad ahead of Euro 2024.

That has increased speculation he could leave in January and Guardiola, speaking at a press conference on Friday, did not rule out that possibility.

He said: “The transfer window is over, now we are here together. When we need a game with transitions or games with something with chaos Kalvin is perfect.

“When there is something you need to do, there are still one or two players who can do it better. That’s the simple reason.

“He will be here until winter. After, I don’t know what will happen because nobody knows once the window is open.”

Guardiola admitted it was “so important” Rodri returned this weekend after the influential Spain midfielder was sorely missed during his recent suspension.

Rodri incurred a three-match ban after being sent off following a confrontation with Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White last month.

Guardiola said: “Rodri has to learn. We have to control our emotions and stand up and go. I’m pretty sure he will learn.”

Scotland could qualify for the 2024 European Championship when Norway host Spain in Oslo on Sunday night and unsurprisingly Erling Haaland is a central figure in the fixture.

Steve Clarke’s side lost 2-0 to La Roja in Seville on Thursday night and their first defeat after five Group A wins left them three points ahead of Luis de la Fuente’s men, having played a game more.

Scotland face France in a friendly in Lille on Tuesday night but in essence, if Norway fail to beat Spain then the Scots will be appearing at their second successive Euros, while there are two fixtures next month, Georgia away and Norway at Hampden Park, which offer opportunities to clinch qualification.

Norway, who lost 2-1 at home to the Scots in June with Haaland scoring from the penalty spot, beat Cyprus 4-0 in Larnaca on Thursday with the Manchester City superstar scoring a double to make it 27 goals in 27 appearances for his national team.

De la Fuente was quoted in Marca.com praising his defence as they prepare to come up against the Norwegian goal machine.

He said: “We will look for the best version of all, with concentration to try to stop the attacks of Norway.

“We know the importance of Haaland, but he is not the only one. There is no Haaland plan. Haaland is a dynamic attacking specialist, but I’m delighted with the work of my centre-backs.

“We will try to counteract those characteristics, not only Haaland, and we will try to minimise the talent of these players. In defence, against Scotland and Norway, we have dominated the situation.”

The only blip in the qualifying campaign for Spain, this summer’s Nations League winners, was the 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park in March and they will qualify for Germany with a win in Oslo.

Norway have no margin for error in their quest to reach Euro 2024 and coach Stale Solbakken was quoted in marca.com as acknowledging the difficulty of the task they face.

He said: “Yes, the situation of the group for us is a disappointment. Why? It’s as simple as the fact that our situation is extremely difficult to be in the European Championship.”

Looking back at lessons from the defeat in Malaga, he said: “We learned that we can play, create chances, be alive for 81 minutes.

“Spain is always one of the best, always with the ball and in aggressiveness when they don’t have it.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola doubts Sunday’s visit to Arsenal will have a significant impact on who wins the Premier League this season.

Arsenal flourished under former City assistant Mikel Arteta last season but settled up for a runners-up spot as Guardiola’s side claimed a third successive top-flight triumph en route to a historic treble.

The Gunners are unbeaten after seven matches of this campaign and lie one point behind City, who are bidding to bounce back from last weekend’s surprise 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Guardiola, though, insisted this showdown being so early in the season places less of an emphasis on the title race, even if he regards Arsenal as one of their main rivals.

He said: “This will not define a lot. It will be different when they come here at the Etihad (at the end of March) – then it will depend on the situations we are in.”

Instead Guardiola’s main focus in the weeks ahead is on guaranteeing progression from their Champions League group, having started the defence of their crown with wins over Red Star Belgrade and Leipzig.

He said: “We know where we came from with the treble. After that the tendency is to go down. We can play better or worse but in general in the training sessions the focus is there.

“We made an incredible step forward in the Champions League. In this month, the Champions League is the most important thing by far, until February when it starts again.

“What I want is to arrive here in February when we start the Champions League to be in the competitions and that it’s close. To be close to the top of the league and keep the distance short and make the last 10 games in our competition ‘let’s do it again’.

“(If you qualify for the Champions League knockout stages) you can focus on the Premier League until it is back again. We made a big step on Wednesday (by beating Leipzig), now we have Arsenal.”

Guardiola will be without Rodri this weekend as the midfielder serves the final game of a three-match domestic suspension while John Stones and Kevin de Bruyne remain on the sidelines.

De Bruyne is a long-term absentee after undergoing hamstring surgery but his absence has not unduly troubled City, who have found the back of the net at least once in every league game this season.

Guardiola said: “Since I arrived we scored a lot of goals, a lot. We have this ability with proper strikers, false nines, wingers, different pressing, different build ups. I am delighted with everyone.”

If City lose at the Emirates Stadium, it would mark the first time they have been beaten in successive league games since December 2018.

Asked to pinpoint why they have been so successful in bouncing straight back from a defeat, Guardiola added: “It shows what we have done. It is the exception – what we have done is incredible.”

Erling Haaland has not ruled out breaking Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goalscoring record.

Shearer scored 260 Premier League goals in 441 appearances during 14 seasons as a player with Blackburn and Newcastle before retiring in 2006.

Norway and Manchester City striker Haaland has scored 44 Premier League goals in 42 appearances since arriving in England from Borussia Dortmund in time for the start of the 2022-23 season.

The 23-year-old, who has notched eight goals in seven top-flight games this season, jokingly told the Telegraph: “How long is my contract? Three years and 10 months (left)? So, there is still time to do it, no?”

When asked if he was serious about breaking the record during that time, Haaland added: “I didn’t say that!

“That’s something you can’t think of. You have to think of the next game, the season and then these things come after a while. But if I will still be 15 years longer in England then why not? We will see.”

Haaland, who has scored a total of 199 goals in 203 career appearances for Salzburg, Dortmund, City and Norway, said it was now a bigger story whenever he does not hit the target.

He said: “Norwegian media when I don’t score: Goalless! That’s the headline. That’s how it is. It’s a good thing. I am not complaining at all but, also, I signed for City to score goals.

“So, it was also a bit expected – maybe not so many – but I am still the one who is going to get the ball in the back of the net.”

Haaland can often appear to drift out of games without touching the ball for long periods and explained how he slips into a ‘zombie’ state as he waits for his chance.

“I go out of my body and become a zombie,” he added. “It’s kind of a bit of a ‘zone out’. Like looking around. Waiting for the chance. And when the chance comes I know I have to be ready, you know?”

Mikel Arteta has called for Arsenal to change their Premier League losing streak against Manchester City ahead of their clash at the Emirates on Sunday.

Arsenal are without a league win against the treble-winners since 2015 and a defeat on Sunday would extend their losing run to 13.

Arteta highlighted that his side have broken winless streaks against other sides and called for his players to do the same against City.

“When I came here I think it was 18 years at Old Trafford, 17 years at Stamford Bridge and we have since done it, so lets change it,” Arteta said.

“My only worry is the quality of the opponent and that’s unquestionable and on Sunday we have to be at our best for 100 minutes. That’s what we can control and we need to focus.

“In these big games you need big players with talent who make it count. Duels are a big thing in a game which can go one way or another.”

Arteta lauded “top player” Declan Rice who he believes has adapted quickly to life in north London after his summer switch from West Ham.

Rice moved for a reported £105m in July and has featured in all seven league matches for the Gunners, scoring their second in a 3-1 win over Manchester United in September.

And Arteta highlighted the midfielder’s attributes which has allowed him to adjust to his new surroundings.

“With Declan, I am extremely pleased. He has the qualities, the presence, the understanding to be a top player for us in his position,” Arteta added.

“When you pay that sum of money you hope that they adapt really quickly but I think overall he’s adapted really nicely.

“The league, the opponents, the demands we have here, the player he is for the national team, his previous club as well are all really relevant (reasons he has settled in quickly).”

Erling Haaland failed to score when Arsenal beat City in the Community Shield  in August and Arteta believes his defenders have the physicality to nullify the Norwegian’s strengths.

He said: “That game was a while ago and it will be different, they will do different things as well but we are prepared to play to our strengths.

“I think we have enough physicality in the backline to deal with those players (Haaland) and we have to prove it with every action on Sunday.”

What the papers say

Liverpool have identified their prime target when the January transfer window opens. According to the Daily Mirror, Fluminense’s Brazilian midfielder Andre Trindade will be at the top of their list.

Manchester City are turning their attention towards keeping hold of their talent. The Daily Telegraph reports the treble winners plan to open contract talks with striker Erling Haaland, 23, with Real Madrid showing interest.

Chelsea are also looking to secure one of their young stars, according to the Daily Mail. They are planning talks with Conor Gallagher, 23, as the England midfielder nears the final 18 months of his contract.

And Everton are also close to tying up Jarrad Branthwaite to a long-term deal, reports the Daily Mirror. Manchester United had reportedly been interested in the 21-year-old defender.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jarrod Bowen: Liverpool and Newcastle are watching as contract talks for the England forward, 26, move slowly at West Ham.

Xavi Simons: Manchester City are expected to face a fight from Barcelona for the Netherlands midfielder, 20, from Paris St Germain next summer.

Pep Guardiola has laughed off suggestions he should be concerned about the number of chances Erling Haaland has missed this season.

The Manchester City manager claims anyone who says the prolific Norwegian has become wasteful will be proved wrong – and forced to apologise – soon enough.

Haaland scored 52 goals in an extraordinary debut campaign at City last season and, on the face of it, has started this one strongly too with seven in eight appearances.

Yet analysis shows he has missed 12 ‘big chances’ this term, nine of them being in his last two outings against West Ham and Red Star Belgrade. After eight games last season he had scored 12 goals, with eight ‘big chances’ missed.

“I will not sleep tonight!” Guardiola joked when these numbers were put to him at a press conference to preview the champions Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“He has had incredible chances and he could have scored 14-15 goals now. What is important is he always says, ‘I have the chance, I have the chance, I have the chance. The problem is when I do not have chances, or I do not get balls or I am in the wrong position’.

“My advice is don’t criticise Erling too much. Criticise the full-back, the central defender or the manager, but never, never the striker who scored all those goals because he will and then you will be in a position where you have to apologise to him.”

Guardiola concedes Haaland was not fully fit at the start of the season, but that is not unexpected after last year’s exertions.

He said: “No (he was not fully fit) – it is quite simple – but in the pre-season I cannot expect him to be fully fit.

“Normally the new players come and are fully fit earlier. When you don’t start the last season, you are fitter earlier.

“When you win the treble maybe you think, ‘I wait a week longer to be completely fit’. It is a question of time.

“Erling is much better than in the first week. Every week he is better and everything is there.

“He is an incredible threat. He has had a lot of chances and that means we are playing good. Always I have the sense that the team are doing quite good by the number of chances Erling has.”

Julian Alvarez is revelling in his partnership with Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s attack.

The Argentinian World Cup winner continued his strong start to the season with two goals as the holders began their Champions League title defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

An injury for Kevin De Bruyne has seen Alvarez handed a run of games in support of prolific centre forward Haaland and it is a role he is relishing.

“I am very happy with the goals, to help the team,” the 23-year-old said. “We are doing well, we are winning – which is the most important thing – and playing good games.

“I am trying to adapt and I continue growing in this position, where I am moving freely, to give the team another option and add to the attack.”

Alavarez was the dominant figure in City’s forward line as they threatened to overwhelm Red Star in their opening Group G game at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet despite creating a plethora of chances – with Haaland hitting the bar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer making several saves – City fell behind to an Osman Bukari strike just before half-time.

Alvarez began the fightback with a fine dinked finish after the restart and then put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead when his free-kick was inadvertently punched into the goal by Glazer.

Rodri wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time but, again, City could have had several more. Haaland went the closest when he hit the goal frame for a second time.

“We played a good game,” said Alvarez. “It was important to start with a win and three points at home in this difficult competition. We are very happy.

“We had many chances we could not convert but Pep told us to keep doing what we were doing and the goals would come.

“It was the same in the previous game where we were losing and came back, so it was fine. We always try to stay calm, play well in the second half and win.”

Alvarez was not a regular starter last season, despite his starring role in his country’s World Cup triumph, but Guardiola believes he can do an important job in easing the goalscoring burden on Haaland.

Guardiola said: “It’s the same player as last season but being a World Cup winner doesn’t mean you have to play all the time.

“Last season we had Kevin and (Ilkay) Gundogan in that position. Kevin was in top form and Gundo was incredible.

“In that moment sometimes it was difficult to find spaces but I never had a doubt.

“Now Gundo has gone and Kevin unfortunately is injured. We need players to be close to Erling, don’t put all the responsibilities just on the shoulders of Erling to score all the goals.

“That’s why when Phil (Foden) has played there, when Julian plays there, we have the feeling that we create a lot of chances.”

Julian Alvarez is revelling in his partnership with Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s attack.

The Argentinian World Cup winner continued his strong start to the season with two goals as the holders began their Champions League title defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

An injury for Kevin De Bruyne has seen Alvarez handed a run of games in support of prolific centre forward Haaland and it is a role he is relishing.

“I am very happy with the goals, to help the team,” the 23-year-old said. “We are doing well, we are winning – which is the most important thing – and playing good games.

“I am trying to adapt and I continue growing in this position, where I am moving freely, to give the team another option and add to the attack.”

Alavarez was the dominant figure in City’s forward line as they threatened to overwhelm Red Star in their opening Group G game at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet despite creating a plethora of chances – with Haaland hitting the bar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer making several saves – City fell behind to an Osman Bukari strike just before half-time.

Alvarez began the fightback with a fine dinked finish after the restart and then put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead when his free-kick was inadvertently punched into the goal by Glazer.

Rodri wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time but, again, City could have had several more. Haaland went the closest when he hit the goal frame for a second time.

“We played a good game,” said Alvarez. “It was important to start with a win and three points at home in this difficult competition. We are very happy.

“We had many chances we could not convert but Pep told us to keep doing what we were doing and the goals would come.

“It was the same in the previous game where we were losing and came back, so it was fine. We always try to stay calm, play well in the second half and win.”

Alvarez was not a regular starter last season, despite his starring role in his country’s World Cup triumph, but Guardiola believes he can do an important job in easing the goalscoring burden on Haaland.

Guardiola said: “It’s the same player as last season but being a World Cup winner doesn’t mean you have to play all the time.

“Last season we had Kevin and (Ilkay) Gundogan in that position. Kevin was in top form and Gundo was incredible.

“In that moment sometimes it was difficult to find spaces but I never had a doubt.

“Now Gundo has gone and Kevin unfortunately is injured. We need players to be close to Erling, don’t put all the responsibilities just on the shoulders of Erling to score all the goals.

“That’s why when Phil (Foden) has played there, when Julian plays there, we have the feeling that we create a lot of chances.”

England and Aston Villa star Rachel Daly and Manchester City striker Erling Haaland have won the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year awards.

Daly’s Lionesses team-mate Lauren James and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka have been named as the PFA young players of the year in the awards voted for by their peers.

Daly and James were key performers for England in their run to the World Cup final earlier this month, but the accolades they received at the PFA’s 50th anniversary awards event in Salford are based on their performances last season.

Saka was voted the men’s Young Player of the Year after a terrific season for club and country, while a star of the club’s past, Ian Wright, picked up the men’s PFA Merit award.

Jill Scott, who won 161 caps for England and retired after the Lionesses won the Euros last summer, received the women’s Merit award.

Daly’s victory in the senior women’s player category came after she hit 22 goals in the Women’s Super League for Aston Villa last season – a remarkable achievement for a player who featured at left-back in the Lionesses’ successful Euros campaign last summer.

The 31-year-old from Harrogate saw off competition from five other illustrious WSL names on the nominees list – Sam Kerr, Frida Maanum, Guro Reiten, Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and Ona Batlle.

James, who featured in the World Cup final as a substitute after a red card in the last 16 against Nigeria meant she was suspended for the quarter-final and semi-final, was a key player for Chelsea as they won the domestic double.

Haaland enjoyed a stunning debut season for Manchester City, hitting 52 goals in all competitions as they won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble last season.

The 23-year-old was voted as the Premier League’s top player, seeing off competition from his team-mates John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, as well as from Arsenal duo Saka and Martin Odegaard and former Tottenham striker Harry Kane, now at Bayern Munich.

Saka secured the young player prize after enjoying his finest season to date, scoring 14 goals for the Gunners and contributing 11 assists.

He was also one of England’s star performers at the World Cup in Qatar last winter.

Wright’s career in football was recognised with the Merit award. The 59-year-old, who starred as a striker for Arsenal, Crystal Palace and England, is now a popular broadcaster for the BBC and ITV.

Wright has become a vocal ally for the women’s game and also campaigns against discrimination within the sport. He became an OBE for services to football and charity in the King’s Birthday Honours in June.

Scott received the women’s merit award in recognition of a stellar career at club and international level. The 36-year-old played for Sunderland, Everton and Manchester City between 2004 and 2022. As well as her England caps, she also featured for Team GB at London 2012 and again in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

To mark the awards reaching a half-century, the PFA also handed out individual player prizes for the Championship, League One and League Two for the first time.

Chuba Akpom was voted as the second tier’s top player, after top scoring with 28 goals for Middlesbrough. His fine form at Boro earned him a summer move to Dutch side Ajax.

Conor Chaplin, whose 26 goals spearheaded Ipswich’s promotion push from League One, won that division’s award, while Bradford’s Andy Cook was League Two’s Players’ Player of the Year.

Manchester City assistant Juanma Lillo says Erling Haaland’s mentality helps set him apart from most other goalscorers.

Haaland missed a first-half penalty and several other chances in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win at Sheffield United before finally breaking the hosts’ stubborn resistance at Bramall Lane.

The Norway striker headed City into a second-half lead and after substitute Jayden Bogle fired a late Blades equaliser, Rodri smashed home City’s winner to send them top of the table with three straight wins.

Lillo, who took on the head coach’s role as Pep Guardiola recovers from back surgery, said: “Today would have been difficult for any striker, how it played out in the first half.

“Of course there was the situation with the penalty, which is frustrating for anyone, but that could happen to any striker, not just Erling.

“What it does show is that, and not just because he scored, because he came close on a couple of other occasions as well, came really close with (another) header, that it really shows his mental fortitude to keep going and keep going.

“That’s something that’s really difficult to find and he showed it throughout.

“He’s a very young lad and his mindset is so good that, OK he’s missed a penalty, but he’s come back now and he wants to keep going and keep trying to score these goals.”

The Blades’ central back three of captain John Egan, Jack Robinson and Anel Ahmedhodzic were key to their side’s disciplined rearguard action, which stifled Haaland for large parts of the game.

Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom, who could not hide his disappointment at failing to hold on for a point, said: “I’m not going to tell you the plan because we may do it again next time.

“The central defenders enjoyed that challenge. Haaland enjoyed that challenge and got really wound up.

“He was really pleased with his goal obviously. He’s a big, big threat.”

The Blades introduced latest signing Cameron Archer to the Bramall Lane faithful before kick-off and Heckingbottom expects more transfer activity between now and midnight on Friday when the window closes.

“We’ve lost players but that’s changed our resources, so we’re doing as much as we possibly can to come out of the window in the best possible shape,” he added.

“I’ve been pleased with the signings and pleased with them as characters, as people and buying into what we’re about.

“You can see in the performance. The reason I’m so disappointed about not having a point is for the players and the fans.

“You could see the reaction, everyone’s together on it, everyone knows what we’re trying to do.

“That’s the reason I’m really upset about the point. How crucial it will be at the end of the season, who knows?”

Erling Haaland is one of three members of Manchester City’s treble-winning team to be nominated for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year award.

The 23-year-old Norway striker was a sensation in his debut season in English football, scoring 52 goals in all competitions as Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Haaland is joined on the six-man shortlist by Belgium playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and England international John Stones.

The Barnsley-born player, 29, was a revelation as Guardiola pushed him up from defence into midfield last season.

Arsenal were City’s closest challengers in the Premier League last term and two of their star performers, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, are also on the list.

England winger Saka enjoyed his finest season to date, scoring 14 goals for the Gunners and contributing 11 assists.

Norway international Odegaard led by example as Arsenal captain and hit 15 goals and added seven assists.

The only player on the list from outside the Premier League’s top two in 2022-23 was Harry Kane.

The England captain, who has since completed a summer move to German champions Bayern Munich, hit 30 top-flight goals last season for Tottenham, second only to Haaland’s tally of 36.

Justin Kluivert has named Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland, Eden Hazard and Son Heung-min among his Premier League inspirations as he prepares to start his career in England with Bournemouth.

The Dutch attacker, son of Barcelona great Patrick Kluivert, has admired the impact made by Manchester City striker Haaland after arriving in the division.

Kluivert has joined Bournemouth from Roma ahead of the new Premier League season.

Having also had loan spells with RB Leipzig, Nice and Valencia, he will complete the set of playing in each of Europe's top five leagues when he makes his debut for the club.

Kluivert is delighted his chance to play in the Premier League has come and has been watching some of English football's greatest recent performers to prepare.

"I've watched a lot of YouTube of course and you watch a lot of Cristiano Ronaldo," Kluivert said to Stats Perform.

"Eden Hazard in his best days at Chelsea was unbelievable if you ask me, so yeah, those are players I like to watch or Heung-min Son maybe – someone like that, a type that is very straight to the goal – I like that."

Asked if he had tracked Haaland's record 36-goal debut top-flight season in England, Kluivert added: "Of course. You always need to look at the guys who are successful in what they do.

"You learn a lot from a player like Haaland or players that have played there like Ronaldo or Eden Hazard. 

"You have a bunch more too and of course you need to look at them, how they have done it and maybe you can learn some stuff from them. It's always good to learn to get the best of yourself."

Kluivert understands that the opportunity to play in all of Europe's top-five leagues, as well as the Eredivisie in Ajax where he started out, is a rare feat, especially doing so by the age of 24.

"All top five leagues, there are not a lot of players who have done that," Kluivert said.

"First of all, I'm very happy to have played at all these clubs, it's an honour. 

"To end in the Premier League, it's the best league in the world, so I'm very happy with that and happy for the opportunity that Bournemouth gave me.

"I'm very happy to be here and to represent Bournemouth, a beautiful club and I can't wait to get started. 

"So I could say that I have a lot in my backpack and can't wait to take them all out to show them here in this great league."

Kluivert thinks the style of play in England should suit him nicely.

He added: "I played in Italy [first]. Germany has, like France, has a little bit of the Italian philosophy, but also parts from the Spanish game, it's right in the middle. 

"And it's nice that when I played in France, Italy, Spain, they all have little bits that are the same but, for me, France is more physical, Italy is also, and then in Spain there is more football. 

"And I think the Premier League is more like you can relate it to La Liga, because the teams want to attack, they want to keep the ball and press. 

"That's a philosophy that the Premier League also has. So yeah, I'm happy to be here on that level."

Kluivert, who earned his two caps for the Netherlands in 2018, thinks the style of play in the Premier League and La Liga is the best fit for his game.

"Yeah [it suits me more]," he said. "Italy is more what I think of as a more defensive, a more tactical game. 

"And Spain was more you have a lot of good footballers who want to attack. 

"They attack with the whole team so there is more space in the back and the football games also are much nicer for the fans to watch – I think the Premier League also has that. 

"That's also good for me to show my qualities. So I'm happy to be here."

Bournemouth begin their Premier League campaign at home to West Ham on Saturday.

Joleon Lescott warned that Erling Haaland cannot be expected to break even more records after his remarkable debut season in England.

Haaland arrived in the Premier League in style last term, scoring 36 goals - a competition record for a 38-game season.

The Manchester City star scored a further 16 goals in other competitions, finishing on a remarkable 52 for the campaign.

But former City defender Lescott does not believe it can be expected that the 23-year-old continues setting records.

"We can't expect him to continue to break a record every year. It'd be difficult to do that," Lescott said to Stats Perform.

"I think if he maintains the level that he set, then he's going to be an iconic player for the Premier League, for Manchester City.

"Defenders will have to adapt to what he does and what he's done because if they didn't then he would continue to score the goals that he has.

"So I'm sure there will be different approaches and different solutions for [playing against] Erling this season."

Haaland spearheaded City's charge to a treble last season, and Lescott sees his old team as being the very best in the world as it stands.

"They're the best team in Europe for sure," he said.

"Obviously, with the Super Cup and hopefully the Club World Cup to come soon, we can have that honour of being recognised as the best team in the world, but you have to win the honours in order to do that."

City ultimately won the Premier League last term by five points, but they were pushed hard by Arsenal, who led the top flight for much of the season.

And Lescott feels there will be plenty of challengers to their crown in the coming campaign.

"Obviously, Arsenal were there or thereabouts last season. So I anticipate that challenge," he said.

"Liverpool again, they've been on par to a certain extent with Manchester City over the last few seasons. Manchester United have recruited new players, so I'm sure every team going into the start of the season believes they can win."

After facing Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday, City play Burnley in their opening Premier League fixture, before taking on Europa League winners Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup.

Norway manager Stale Solbakken joked that if Jack Grealish could train for England then he has no cause to worry about Erling Haaland’s treble celebrations ahead of Saturday’s clash with Scotland.

Solbakken understood the need for Haaland to revel in his success with Manchester City after last weekend’s Champions League final.

Solbakken has taken it easy with Haaland this week, more concerned with ensuring the striker recharges, and believes a homecoming welcome will lift his star man during the Euro 2024 qualifier in Oslo.

City celebrated in Ibiza after their Istanbul success against Inter before continuing the party on a bus parade in Manchester on Monday with Grealish throwing himself wholeheartedly into the fun.

When asked what the Norwegian people made of the scenes ahead of a big international, Solbakken said: “I think everyone understands that and I also think it’s a good idea to do that.

“Because, no matter how good you are, if you say (Pep) Guardiola is the best manager in the world and he has managed to do this treble once in Spain, once time in England, even when he had the best players representing the biggest clubs with the biggest budgets, you could think this would happen more often. But it doesn’t because it’s so, so difficult.

“And I don’t think you can postpone a celebration like that. You can’t say ‘let’s meet up in the summer when these national games are over and we party’. It’s not the same because the excitement is a little bit out of your body and you have to do it then.

“When he came here, he didn’t look like he had gone the Grealish way. If Grealish managed to train for England the first time, he should also manage to do it for us.”

Only one of Haaland’s 53 goals this season has come on the international stage but the 22-year-old has not played for his country since September and Solbakken believes an excited home crowd will help him overcome his heavy schedule.

“The biggest gift in that is the love the crowd will give him because it’s a long time since he has played in Norway and he didn’t participate in the two internationals earlier this year,” the former Wolves and Copenhagen manager said.

“Obviously the Norwegian people have seen him on telly for a long time without seeing him live. I think he has had one game here in a year.

“So that will probably pump him up and give him the five to 10 per cent he probably lacks due to the programme he has been through and all the feelings and emotions he has been through as well.”

Haaland was missed in March as Norway took one point from their opening two Group A games against Spain and Georgia, while Scotland sealed maximum return.

On the game, Solbakken said: “It’s more crucial for us than Scotland of course but no matter what, before the group started, this would always have been a key game.

“But it’s more that Scotland have had a really great start. I think we played two really good games but what messed it up a little bit, even though we only got one point, is that Scotland beat Spain.

“That means it looks much better for us if we can beat you and everyone is beating each other. If we win, also Spain are in trouble, because it’s two teams who can catch them.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.