Pep Guardiola has reminded all Erling Haaland doubters that he is on track to eclipse Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for Champions League goals.
A spectacular debut season at Manchester City saw Haaland score 52 goals in 53 appearances and break countless records.
This season hasn’t been as successful for the Norwegian striker on a personal level with just 21 goals so far.
He scored his first goal since November 25 in City’s win over Everton last Saturday, netting both of their goals in the 2-0 triumph.
For over a month of this dry spell, Haaland was injured, however, four games where he played without a goal is unexpected given his very high standards.
But Guardiola is not bothered by Haaland’s perceived lack of goals.
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“We never put pressure on Erling like ‘you have to score for us’,” Guardiola said ahead of City’s Champions League clash with FC Copenhagen on Tuesday night, live on talkSPORT.
“Not even [Lionel] Messi or Cristiano [Ronaldo] has these numbers at this age.
“He’s adapted very well. I have an incredible group of players who welcome new players. I think Erling felt that.”
With 140 goals and 129 goals respectively in the Champions League, Ronaldo and Messi are well ahead of Haaland, who has scored 40 times in Europe’s premier club competition.
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But at 23, Haaland has time on his side and the numbers clearly suggest he could overtake the iconic players.
Before turning 24 in June 2011, Messi was three fewer than Haaland with 37 goals in the competition, while Ronaldo had just 16 Champions League goals to his name at the end of the 2008/09 season when he was already 24 years old.
Haaland’s 24th birthday won’t be until July, so if City qualify for a second successive European final, it will be enough of an opportunity for him to increase his superb average.