Pep Guardiola admits Erling Haaland’s special qualities can help Manchester City win the Champions League for the first time, but insists the Norwegian cannot do it alone.
Haaland has taken off since moving from Borussia Dortmund to City for £51million in the summer, scoring a record 10 goals in his first six Premier League appearances.
The 22-year-old’s formidable record of 23 goals in 19 Champions League appearances has fueled suggestions he could be the missing piece in City’s quest for European supremacy, but Guardiola is adamant the wait must be supported by his entire team.
“All the players the club has decided to sign this season have come to try to make us better, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Group G opener in Sevilla.
“Is this help going to help us win the title? I don’t know. I’ve always believed, but if we only rely on Erling’s shoulders, we’re not going to win the Champions League. What we have to do is play well, create chances to help him score goals and hopefully we can do that.
“He came here because we convinced him, because he felt we didn’t have many strikers and he could play with us and try to get involved in the way we play.
“I completely understand that everyone is talking about Erling but I have three, four, five new players and I consider it the same to settle in as soon as possible.
“I hope he can help us, but we’re not going to win just for Erling, that’s my feeling. He has a special quality and in important games he can maybe solve the problems we have. , sure, but if we don’t play him well, we’re not going to win games in the Champions League or the Premier League.”
Stones, walk outside; Akanji in contention for his Sevilla debut
Guardiola has confirmed that defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker will both miss Tuesday’s trip to Sevilla through injury.
Right-back Walker was sent off in the final stages of Saturday’s Premier League draw at Aston Villa while Stones was also handed a knock, and no player was included in City’s traveling squad for the clash at the Roman Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
“[They are] hurt,” Guardiola confirmed. “John isn’t much. Kyle isn’t much either, but I don’t know if he’ll be ready for Saturday, or [Borussia] Dortmund or Wolves before the international break.”
Deadline Day signing Manuel Akanji comes in on his Manchester City debut in the absence of Stones and Walker, with Guardiola adding: “That’s why we’re lucky the club gave us Akanji, otherwise we’d be in trouble.
“We knew it, we felt it, that’s why the club acted quickly and we were able to bring a player into this position.”
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips has traveled to Spain after a shoulder injury and could feature.
Who is under the most pressure to lift the Champions League trophy?
Defending holders Real Madrid will launch their Champions League defense in Glasgow when this season’s group stage kicks off on Tuesday night.
Madrid’s 14th European Cup underscored the continued expectation of glory at Manchester City, who are contesting the Champions League for a 12th season – all in a row since 2011/12.
Only Real (26), Barcelona (19) and Bayern Munich (15) are on longer streaks of consecutive appearances in the competition, and they should find negotiating Group G easier than it looks at first glance – not least because they directly weakened one of their opponents.
Do Guardiola’s side need to win Europe’s most coveted club trophy more than anyone else?
How many goals could Haaland score?
Erling Haaland would end the season with 70 Premier League goals if his strike rate was maintained and he played every minute – but how does the Norwegian achieve his record returns?
Haaland smashed 10 home goals in just six Premier League games, and was also hooked early in all but one of those who missed 55 minutes – scoring consecutive hat-tricks in wins over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest at the Etihad .
Those numbers produce a staggering 1.86 goals per game – more powerful than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this season for playing more than 108 minutes.
Pep Guardiola: Erling Haaland cannot win the Champions League for Man City alone