Ferran Soriano, Manchester City’s chief executive, has suggested Manchester United could have afforded to sign Erling Haaland but he chose the project at the Etihad over other European giants.

City announced the £51m signing of Haaland this month, beating the likes of Real Madrid to his signing by triggering the release clause in his contract at Borussia Dortmund. However, the financial package Haaland will receive is expected to take the total expenditure on the transfer to significantly more.

In light of that, City have received criticism from outside that they have simply thrown money at Haaland to secure his signature, but Soriano has hit back — bringing up United’s spending record to boost his argument.

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Soriano, who was spotted dining with Haaland in Manchester on Tuesday, told RAC1: “Haaland has chosen us. You have seen the transfer figures, and they are very reasonable. The salary we are paying him is what we can afford and what he is entitled to.

We have explained the project to him, but the money could have been given to him by Manchester United, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. He has decided where he wants to go and we are happy. Haaland will need a period of adjustment and we will have to be patient, but he will succeed.

“Our focus is on football, on playing well and winning, rather than on star players. We lacked a centre-forward. We had someone spectacular like [Sergio] Aguero. We have spent more than a year looking for a replacement and Haaland is it.”

Expanding on his mention of United, Soriano suggested that United have more money available to them than City do, and have spent more in recent years – but with far fewer titles and trophies to show for it.

He explained: “If you look at the income of English clubs, the biggest earner is Manchester United. They earn £100m more than City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

“We don’t have more money. In fact, we have less. How much money has United spent in recent years and how much has City spent? If you analyse it, you will see that United has spent more and that City has won 11 titles in the last few years and United one or two – and no league titles.”

Finally, Soriano gave a short, sharp reply in relation to the notion that City are a state-owned club due to their owner being Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi.

“We are not a state club, we are a club owned by three shareholders looking for profitability,” he said, referring to City’s ownership model.

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