Guardiola hails ‘exceptional’ Haaland amid bid talk

Pep Guardiola praised “exceptional” Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland as he admitted Manchester City could spend the kind of money required to sign a player of his calibre.

City are one of several top clubs linked with a blockbuster move for Haaland in the close-season.

The 20-year-old Norwegian is the talk of Europe after scoring 33 goals in 32 games this season, while becoming the youngest player to reach 20 career goals in the Champions League.

Already well aware of Haaland’s quality, City boss Guardiola has a chance to take a closer look when Dortmund visit the Etihad Stadium for the Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday.

“He’s exceptional for his age. The numbers speak for themselves,” Guardiola told reporters on Monday.

“He can score right, left, counter attacks, in the box, headers. He’s a fantastic striker, everyone knows it.

“He’s only 20. To score that many goals at this age, it’s not easy to find a player like that.

“A blind guy can realise he’s a good striker, it’s not necessary to be a manager.”

The runaway Premier League leaders will need a new forward next season after announcing their record goalscorer Sergio Aguero is set to leave at the end of this term.

Guardiola recently suggested the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic would make it difficult for his team to meet Dortmund’s reported £130 million ($180 million) asking price for Haaland.