Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s acquisition of Erling Haaland demonstrates that the Premier League champions are one of Europe’s elite destinations.
City reportedly saw off competition from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to sign the forward for £51.2m (€60m) in May and Haaland has started brightly, scoring three goals in his first three league games.
The Norway international became only the third player after Emmanuel Adebayor and Emile Mpenza to score in both of his first two Premier League outings for City when he followed up his opener double at West Ham with a goal in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United on Sunday.
Meanwhile, City’s all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero is the only other player to score twice on his Premier League debut for the club, having done so against Swansea City in August 2011.
Asked if the former Borussia Dortmund striker represents the first established world-class star to join City, Guardiola told BBC Football Focus: “Yes, maybe that’s right. We can’t deny how incredible his numbers and talent are.”
“From what I’ve seen of him so far, he’s a huge competitor in every training session, he’s incredibly focused, there’s no doubt about that.
“But we had a lot of legends here whose contribution was [important] to how we are right now. Sergio, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, David Silva, many of them.
After lifting the Premier League trophy four times in six seasons in England, Guardiola suggested City could now attract players who would have previously preferred big European clubs such as Bayern, Madrid or Barcelona.
“You are right, maybe we couldn’t do it or they will choose another club because the charisma of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid was higher than us,” he added.
“We are new to Europe’s top [level], only a decade old, and they have a long, long history.
“And maybe you’re right. We know that the most watched strikers or players are coming here now, that’s proof that we’ve done really well.”
“I remember in the pre-season, in the United States five or six years ago, there were not many blue shirts in the stands. The last games against Bayern Munich and [Club] America [in July] there were a lot of them.
“People watch the winners and we’ve won a lot in recent years and people support us all over the world, which is incredible. It’s a great honour.