Pep Guardiola claims Erling Haaland is beyond compare and even better than the statistics suggest. The striker has made a stunning start at Manchester City, scoring 17 goals in 11 appearances since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund, and his hat-trick against Manchester United on Sunday was his third in successive home Premier League games.
The 22-year-old is averaging a goal every 54 minutes, has had 42 shots and has laid on three assists, including two in the 6-3 defeat of United. On Wednesday he will hope to add to his 26 Champions League goals from 21 matches as City host FC Copenhagen.
“At his age no one can compete with him,” Guardiola said. “The numbers speak for themselves and inside, in the locker room, and on the pitch we see things that are not in the stats that make us feel happy to have him here.”
Haaland was not the only City player to shine on Sunday, with Phil Foden, also 22, claiming a hat-trick. Despite the high standards being set, Guardiola believes there is more to come from both of them.
The manager said: “Phil is an exceptional player. He grew up a lot and is already many years with us. He’s reliable in terms of his physical condition and he’s so intense and clever in everything. He is able to play every three days. But both know they can do better and hopefully they can do it.”
One player yet to sparkle this term is Riyad Mahrez, who was one of the stars of last season’s title win and run to the Champions League semi-finals. The Algeria international has started four times and has not scored.
Guardiola said: “I know perfectly Riyad, how important [he is]. We need him to come back to his best – his best in terms of personality, ability, quality, his love for this game and how he enjoys playing. Step by step he will come back. Now he’s not playing much but he has to come back in better physical condition and then the rest will come along. As a player I cannot teach him anything; he’s too good.”
City have a three-point lead in Group G after winning their opening two matches against Sevilla and Dortmund. The right-back Kyle Walker looks set to miss out after being forced off against United and the midfielder Rodri’s calf problem will be assessed.