EPL

Klopp: Man City signing Haaland would 'set new levels'

By Sports Desk May 09, 2022

Manchester City's reportedly imminent capture of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland will "set new levels", according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Pep Guardiola's City and Klopp's Reds have emerged as the dominant forces in the Premier League since the 2018-19 season, when they finished on 98 and 97 points respectively in an enthralling battle for top spot, with each team winning one league title apiece since City's triumph that year.

Their rivalry has been stepped up again this season, with City currently three points clear at the top of the league with just three games remaining.

Meanwhile, Liverpool remain in the hunt for a remarkable quadruple after winning the EFL Cup, reaching the Champions League final, and eliminating City in the FA Cup's last four to reach the showpiece.

However, City look set to bolster their ranks with the incredible signing of Haaland, who has scored 21 goals and provided seven assists in just 23 Bundesliga appearances this season, averaging a goal every 86.9 minutes.

With reports suggesting City could announce the signing of the Norway international before the end of this season, Klopp says Haaland's arrival could push City to new heights.

"I signed a new contract knowing City will not stop developing, so it's not about City to define if we can be happy or not, it's about us and what we can make of it," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"You have so many opportunities and so many different ways to win a football game, we have to find just one.

"It's possible, and you can do that, we can face City in two or three cup competitions, in the Champions League or whatever, in five or six finals a year maybe, all the rest we play against the other teams.

"Yes, if Erling Haaland goes there it will not weaken them, definitely not. I think it's been spoken about enough, this transfer. I know at the moment there's a lot of talk, and people talk about money.

"But this transfer will set new levels, let me say it like this."

Despite often playing without a recognised striker, Guardiola's team have netted more goals (89) than any other Premier League side this season (Liverpool are second with 87), and the 21-year-old forward will undoubtedly be thrilled by the prospect of featuring in a City team that has created 112 big chances in 35 league outings this term.

Since Haaland arrived in Germany from RB Salzburg at the start of 2020, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (122) and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (89) have scored more than his 85 goals in all competitions, among players in Europe's top five leagues.

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    Ben Stokes believes no other Test side can match England's bravery after the hosts completed a record 378-run chase to beat India in a remarkable Test match at Edgbaston.

    Despite being reduced to 109-3 at one point on day four, England recovered to better their terrific exploits during the recent series whitewash of world Test champions New Zealand.

    The hosts surpassed their previous best chase (362-9) against Australia in 2019, sealing the victory on Tuesday.

    That means England have secured three of the 10 highest chases in their history in their last three Test matches, with the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum regime having reinvigorated the country's red-ball side.

    Speaking to BBC Sport after the win - which saw the delayed series drawn at 2-2 - skipper Stokes declared that while other sides may match England for talent, none could replicate their courage.

    "It is amazing," he said after a fourth straight Test match win. 

    "The change, you're talking about mindset and everything like that - when you've got real clarity in what you want to achieve as a team and how you want to play, it makes things a lot easier. 

    "We know what we were going to do - we knew we were always going to go out and try and chase that down from the get-go. 

    "A great way to explain is that teams are perhaps better than us, but teams won't be braver than us." 

    Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow both brought up centuries to get England over the line in speedy fashion on day five, with the latter becoming the first batsman to score six or more centuries in a single calendar year in Tests when batting at five or below.

    And Stokes heaped praise on the Yorkshire-born duo for their stunning performances, comparing Bairstow's recent displays to his limited overs showings.

    "As people from Yorkshire say, 'strong Yorkshire, strong England'. It couldn't be more true right now. These two are just phenomenal," Stokes added.

    "Rooty has been doing it for 10 years and Jonny has just honestly been ridiculous over the last five or six weeks. 

    "He has got runs but it is the way that he has done it - it's exactly what we talk about. He has embraced it and just gone out and there and done it. It is like watching him play white-ball cricket at the moment."

    Having also become just the third England player to hit a century in both innings of a Test against India (after Graham Gooch and Andrew Strauss), Bairstow explained the players were simply enjoying an exhilarating brand of cricket.

    "It is awesome, it is a great environment at the moment," Bairstow said. "It is fantastic, the way we're playing, and everyone is really enjoying the success and that is a huge part of it.

    "If Joe and I are out there doing it together, we're in a really good place. We've been doing it for a long time together now.

    "It is really special to knock off 378 with just three down. It is something that we'll never forget. After day two I got asked, 'what do you think is too many', and I said 'whatever they set we'll go for'.

    "That's exactly what we did. The opening partnership deserves a huge amount of credit, for the way they went about it and the brand of cricket that we're trying to play, it was epitomised by that opening stand. 

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    Having resumed at 259-3 before a lively Edgbaston crowd on Tuesday, England raced to their most impressive victory yet under the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum regime, with Root and Bairstow hitting centuries to complete the highest run chase in the hosts' history and claim a 2-2 draw in the delayed series.

    The victory saw England surpass their 359-run chase against Australia in August 2019, as Root made his 28th Test ton in finishing 142 not out.

    He and Bairstow registered the highest fourth-wicket partnership in the fourth innings of a men's Test (269), as well as England's fifth-highest fourth-wicket stand in any innings.

    Bairstow, meanwhile, also became just the ninth player to hit four Test centuries in England in a calendar year as the home side's entertainers continued their red-ball revival.

    England also recorded three successive chases of over 250 runs in their series whitewash of world champions New Zealand last time out, and Root says the team's fearlessness with the bat left them feeling in control throughout day five.

    "It was pretty fun doing it. Throughout the whole summer, from that first game, we've said, 'whatever they get, we'll chase it'," Root told Sky Sports. "Ben said to us before the toss: 'We're not going to bat first, we're going to chase.'

    "That's the mentality of how we're going about things at the minute. Once we got that partnership going, we just felt in full control.

    "So much credit has to go to the two lads at the top [Alex Lees and Zak Crawley], the way they set the platform, the way they shifted the pressure straight back onto India.

    "To smash that new ball around on a wicket that was doing a bit was just incredible batting. It really made the work that we had to do afterwards a lot easier. It really was a sublime partnership against a world-class attack.

    "The feeling in the dressing room at the moment is 'whatever you get, we're going for it, and we're going to take it down'."

    On a personal level, Root added he was enjoying his cricket again after stepping down as captain in April, saying successor Stokes has instilled a newfound ruthlessness in the side.

    "When you're enjoying things it makes it a lot easier, you turn up to practice excited, you get out in the middle, and you're up for the contest," Root added.

    "I feel in a really good place and I just need to make sure I maintain that. One thing that's worked for me is just accepting it's a game of failure, batting, and you're not going to get it right every time.

    "It was good fun, like I said, there was a little bit on offer, but when you're putting pressure on bowlers it's very difficult for them to keep coming hard at you.

    "We recognised crucial parts of pressure, I think we soaked it up well at times in the second innings, and then when we got our chances to put it back on them, we did it.

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    Galtier is the man who has been trusted to take over at PSG, strongly supported by new sporting director Luis Campos.

    Campos and Galtier have worked together previously when they combined at Lille to create the team that pipped PSG to the Ligue 1 title by a point in 2020-21.

    Galtier left Lille days after they won that championship, joining Nice.

    But he spent only a single season on the French Riviera – finishing fifth and reaching the Coupe de France final – before leaving late last month, with Nice bringing back Lucien Favre as his replacement.

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    Pochettino's departure was confirmed just hours before Galtier appeared alongside PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi at a news conference.

    Galtier will be tasked with finally ending PSG's wait for Champions League glory, their latest failure in the competition coming in a second-leg collapse against eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16.

    He becomes the club's sixth coach since 2012.

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