Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted that comparisons between star forward Erling Haaland and legendary Argentina international Lionel Messi do not help the striker.
The Norwegian striker has been one of the most in-form players in Europe this season and currently leads the scoring charts in Europe’s top five leagues.
He hit 50 goals in all competitions for the season when he scored from the penalty spot in City’s 2-1 win over Fulham at the weekend. That was also his 34th goal in the Premier League, putting him alongside Alan Shearer and Andy Cole for the most Premier League goals in a single season.
His heroics in England and Europe, where Haaland is the top scorer in the UCL, has led to comparisons with Messi. However, Guardiola, who coached the mercurial Argentinean, insists that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar is beyond comparison, although he admits that Haaland shares the same “mentality”.
“No one can compare with Messi, it will not help Erling, but in terms of goals and mentality, yeah,” Guardiola said via Goal.
“Messi has done it every season in the last 10 or 15 seasons, but Erling has got to the same level in terms of goals.
“It’s almost every game; he scores a goal. One or two every game, he had the chance to do it, but Messi is the most complete player I have seen in terms of vision, dribbles, passes, competitiveness, in many difficult things. Hopefully, Erling can be so close like [to] Leo, that will be great for us and him.”
Guardiola praised Haaland for his “confidence in himself” and drive to be successful. Moreover, the Catalan even admitted that the 23-year-old can improve significantly as he has yet to reach his full potential.
“Always, I’ve said with Erling it will be tough when you look at what he has done, and if he doesn’t score the goals like he’s scoring now, people will say, ‘Oh, he’s in a bad situation,’ but his game can improve a lot.
5 “We have spoken about that,” he added. “The movements, I wouldn’t say in the box but the game itself. I think he has that feeling, ‘Is that enough?’ I think he has the desire to get better as a player; as long as he has it, he can do it. To go to work knowing you can do something better is the way.
“I know him a bit, and his mindset is so competitive and positive. He has this incredible self-positive confidence in himself. It’s not arrogance. It’s the self-confidence to say I am going to score. To arrive in his first season and score 50 already, he equalled the record for two legends in Andy Cole and Alan Shearer, so that’s big.”
Haaland will set a new Premier League record for the most goals in a single season if he scores on Wednesday when City play West Ham at the Etihad.