Erling Haaland’s key trait will excite two Man City stars
The long-winded search for Sergio Agüero’s successor is over, with one of Europe’s most prolific strikers trusted to fill the Argentine’s boots. Operating at nearly a goal a game, Haaland’s rise to stardom at Borussia Dortmund – via RB Salzburg – has been quite remarkable.
Son of former Blue Alfie Haaland, the 21-year-old has joined the club on a five-year deal and has already spoken of his excitement to link up with his City teammates in pre-season.
There is certainly potential for some deadly partnerships to form, with Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish previously expressing their delight with the Norwegian’s signing. However, two players in particular could thrive from Haaland’s arrival – Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez.
On Sunday, Haaland scored his fourth and fifth Nations League goal in the last four matches for Norway – even saving time to bag an assist for the third goal. But the clinical striker’s expert positioning, combined with his electric acceleration, will add a completely new dynamic to City’s attack.
Mahrez in particular has made the above cross his trademark. Cutting inside onto his left foot, the Algerian is able to get precise dip and curve on the ball to land it directly at the striker’s feet. He will not even need to be that accurate anymore, he can simply lift it in the air for the 6ft 3in frame to power onto.
It’s similar for Cancelo, who – via the outside of his boot a lot of the time – was one of City’s main creative outlets last season. The 28-year-old can pick a pass from deep, but also has the ability to float a cross towards the back post – an area Haaland could look to attack.
That will be particularly important against teams that deploy a low block and try to frustrate Pep Guardiola’s side – Haaland’s arrival gives the defenders something extra to think about. He will surely become City’s biggest aerial threat up-front since Edin Dzeko and will want to test himself against some of the very best the Premier League has to offer.
Speaking of the very best, Haaland’s excitement around the Champions League is a huge boost for City. The striker described the competition as ‘special’ and feels nights in Europe just feel different, so when Guardiola bemoans missed chances on those nights, the Norway international will be looking to turn fortunes around.