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Has Signing Haaland Made Manchester City into a Better Team?

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Tom

Has Signing Haaland Made Manchester City into a Better Team?

Since the departure of Sergio Aguero, pundits and fans have been crying out for Manchester City to sign a top striker, a missing piece in a complex puzzle. City now look to have found that piece, with a forward who has 14 goals in 39 games at Molde, 17 in 16 at RB Salzburg, 62 in 67 at Borussia Dortmund and now 21 goals in the Premier League for Haaland after just 15 appearances. But even after the acquisition of the Norwegian, the question still remains, has Erling Braut Haaland made City a better team?

What Does Haaland Bring to Manchester City?

So what does Haaland bring? Now that may seem an obvious question because the answer is certainly goals, but just how important could his goals be? And how has his incredible goal-scoring rate impacted those around him?

Haaland has scored 21 goals and registered three assists in 15 Premier League appearances, incredible yet almost expected. During his spell in Germany, he would often score ridiculous goals where he shouldn’t really have a chance. His link-up with Jadon Sancho, who was the main creator for Haaland, was almost telepathic and if a chance presented itself, there is no doubt that the ball would be in the back of the net.

There was simply no way that Haaland could be a failure at City, simply just by looking at the creators around him and how many chances he will receive. The Norwegian is a constant threat to opposing defences due to his raw speed, strength, and intensity. It is incredibly difficult to deal with Haaland compared to most strikers who have a similar profile, as he seems to tick every box needed to be a complete forward. Haaland can play with his back to goal and on the line of the last man making runs in behind, with the ability to drop deep and receive the ball so that he can start an attack.

It almost seems inevitable that Haaland will be on the scoresheet every week, which is brilliant news for City especially considering he is only 22 years old. The 6’4” striker signed a five-year deal with the sky-blue Manchester club this season, meaning that they have a long-term forward. If people are not convinced that Haaland has made City a better team just yet, then there’s no doubt that he will in the near future when Pep Guardiola finds the right balance in his side.

One of the main reasons as to why this is even a debate, is down to the lack of goals from his teammates. Phil Foden is City’s second top goal scorer in the league this season with seven goals, followed by Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez with three goals each. The lack of goals in this City team is down to the business which occurred in the summer, more specifically the outgoings.

Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling both left for Premier League rivals, which meant that a main goals source was lost. Sterling has been one of City’s highest scorers over the last five years, especially from 2017 – 2020, where he accumulated 18 goals, 17 goals and 20 goals in the Premier League. In Manchester City’s 17/18 centurion season, Jesus and Sterling provided approximately 30% of City’s goals between them in the league, which clearly highlights the importance of the duo.

Jesus and Sterling provided the team with constant movement off the ball and runs into the box as well as goals. Which is an aspect that this city team lacks currently, as the wingers' first instinct is to show for the ball to feet, rather than expand the defence of the opposition. Therefore when City face a low block, it is harder for them to break the opposition down due to that lack of movement. This could also be a reason why it seems like they are forcing the ball to Haaland too often as he is the only one making those runs for the creative players.

How to get the best out of City & Haaland

Pep has heavily rotated his wide men so far, with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Foden and Bernardo Silva occupying the winger roles. Foden is by far the most prolific player in that list and he is direct as well as a creative outlet, whereas the others aren’t quite as direct as Foden, in terms of attacking with the intention of scoring a goal for themselves.

A new signing that has not featured much yet but could be instrumental in City’s title challenge charge is World Cup winner Julian Alvarez. The young Argentinian has the desire, energy, and movement to cause any team problems, and there is the belief that he would give City a different dynamic if he played in a right-wing role which we have seen Jesus play in previously.

A front three of Foden, Haaland and Alvarez is one which has the potential to dominate for years to come. With City having creative players all over the pitch and the best creator in the League – Kevin De Bruyne – that front three would feast. It would eliminate the static element to City’s game at the moment also, which means that De Bruyne, Cancelo etc can find themselves more space in positions that can hurt the opposition.

There is no doubt that Haaland will make Manchester City a better team and I would argue that he already has. Haaland is the best number nine in world football at the moment and he would walk into any team and improve them. City are currently in second place, five points behind league leaders Arsenal which is probably why this is a conversation in the first place. However, we are only halfway through the season and once Pep Guardiola finds his best starting XI they will quickly climb into first place. Any team would be lucky to have Erling Braut Haaland.

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