Xavi has insisted Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland were never realistic targets for Barcelona, though he is confident he will have money to invest in the squad. 

Barca wrap up what has been a turbulent season against Villarreal on Sunday. 

The Blaugrana will finish second in LaLiga, a testament to the work done by Xavi since he replaced the much-maligned Ronald Koeman earlier in the campaign. 

However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and fell to a defeat to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals, while there was no success in the Copa del Rey either. 

The 2021-22 season came on the back of Lionel Messi's shock departure, as Barca grappled with financial issues that saw the superstar leave for Paris Saint-Germain. 

Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore arrived to bolster the squad in January, though the latter two were on a free transfer and a loan respectively. 

Barca were linked with moves for Mbappe and Haaland. However, Mbappe is weighing up offers from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid while Haaland is joining Manchester City, and Xavi has claimed there was never any chance of the Blaugrana having the financial capability to sign such players. 

 

"Ask me another question," he told a news conference on Saturday. "Mbappe, let him do what he wants, let him be happy.  

"We do not enter into this equation. I do not understand the question. 

"We cannot put a lot of money in. The economic situation is what it is. We did not enter the bidding of Haaland or Mbappe but that is what we have inherited. 

"There is no need to look back. You have to carry on. We have to compete and win titles again, we need to be competitive from now on. 

"The president transmits confidence to me and that we will be able to invest in our squad. We have made a plan and we will try to execute it.  

"The economic situation is serious but it is not my turn to talk about money. I'm here to talk about football. The economic problems are what they are, but let's talk about football." 

One player who has been heavily linked is Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who plundered 50 goals in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign. 

 

No player across Europe's top five leagues has scored more goals than the Poland striker this season, but he has told Bayern he wishes to leave and will not be signing a new contract, with his deal ending in June 2023. 

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas on Friday cast doubt on Barca's ability to be able to afford the 34-year-old. 

Asked about Lewandowski, Xavi said: "It is one of the possibilities that may come. He has said it himself.  

"There are some negotiations involved. It will not be easy with Bayern involved." 

One possible outgoing at Barca who could free up funds would be Frenkie de Jong. Both Manchester clubs are credited with an interest in the Netherlands international who joined from Ajax in 2019, though it has been reported the 25-year-old is in no rush to leave the Camp Nou. 

"Here we go back to talking about the economic situation," replied Xavi when pressed on the De Jong speculation.  

"He is, for me, a great player who is very capable and very dominating, he can help us a lot, but we go back to talking about money and I don't want to do that." 

Borussia Dortmund bade farewell to several players on an emotional day at Signal Iduna Park, with Erling Haaland signing off in style.

Haaland is moving to Manchester City ahead of the 2022-23 season, with that move confirmed this week.

The 21-year-old – who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in 2019-20 – was presented with a wreath prior to kick-off on Saturday, as Dortmund faced Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

He was not the only player given an ovation before the match, with Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou, who are leaving the club following the expiration of their contracts, and departing loanees Marin Pongracic and Reinier Jesus also paraded on the pitch, along with Marcel Schmelzer, who has retired.

Long-time sporting director Michael Zorc is also retiring, and was given a huge send-off by the Dortmund crowd.

The enthusiasm in the stands was not initially matched on the pitch, as relegation-threatened Hertha took an 18th-minute lead through Ishak Belfodil's penalty.

However, Haaland got his farewell goal with 22 minutes of normal time remaining, coolly slamming in an 86th Dortmund strike from the spot, in what was his 89th appearance for the club.

Zagadou and Witsel were both subbed off with the game winding down and, fittingly, it was the latter's replacement who netted Dortmund's winner.

Marco Rose insisted Dortmund would "not stop playing football" in the wake of Haaland's departure and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko showed the future is bright as he converted from Jude Bellingham's sublime pass.

Haaland was able to enjoy a standing ovation as he made way, with Dortmund's 2-1 victory also ensuring Hertha will be in the relegation play-off.

Dortmund's place in second was already sealed, but below them, Freiburg's attempt to get into the Champions League fell just short as they lost 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen, who took third, while RB Leipzig finished fourth.

Freiburg still have the DFB-Pokal final against Leipzig to look forward to but ultimately slipped down to sixth, with Taiwo Awoniyi's late penalty sending Union Berlin into fifth with a 3-2 win over VfL Bochum.

Erling Haaland's departure will not mean Borussia Dortmund "stop playing football", head coach Marco Rose declared while wishing the soon-to-be Manchester City forward well for the future.

City have agreed a deal to sign Haaland, who had been one of the most sought-after players in the world.

The 21-year-old will now follow in the footsteps of his father Alf-Inge Haaland, who played for City between 2000 and 2003.

Haaland has netted 85 goals since making his Dortmund debut in January 2020, with 28 of those coming from 29 games in all competitions this season.

Across the top five European leagues, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has a better ratio (1.13) of goals per 90 minutes in all competitions than Haaland's 1.1.

 

The move to City is subject to personal terms, though that is unlikely to present an issue, with Pep Guardiola's side all set to add a world-class striker to their star-studded squad.

Dortmund signed Salzburg youngster Karim Adeyemi – a former team-mate of Haaland's – as the Norwegian's replacement, and while Rose wishes the latter well in Manchester, he knows BVB will move on.

"Borussia Dortmund will not stop playing football after Erling leaves us. He decided to do his next step with City, we wish him all the best for that," Rose told a news conference ahead of Saturday's final game of the season, at home to relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin.

"I think he gave us a lot, gave us goals, gave us energy, he's a player who always wants to win.

"I think he still can improve, he is still young but we wish him all the best on his way. I've known him a little bit longer, I had him at Salzburg too, so we will follow him, I think we will meet again, I hope we will meet again. All the best to Erling Haaland."

On signing Adeyemi, Rose said: "He's brutally fast and has a good finish, giving us a lot of flexibility on the offensive.

"Of course, he's still young, so we shouldn't overload him. We'll help him get used to BVB quickly."

Dortmund, who are assured of second place, have lost two of their last three Bundesliga home matches (W1), as many as in their previous 17 league outings at Signal Iduna Park combined.

The last time BVB suffered consecutive home defeats in the league was in 2020 (three in a row).

Pep Guardiola labelled Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City's "key man" after the midfielder scored four in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves, while he expressed his excitement to manage Erling Haaland next season.

City ran riot at Molineux to restore their three-point lead over Liverpool at the Premier League summit, and now need just four points from their final two games to win a second consecutive league title.

De Bruyne became the fourth different player to score four goals for City in a Premier League match (after Edin Dzeko, Gabriel Jesus, and Sergio Aguero – who did so on three occasions), as City bolstered their goal difference, which could yet prove to be crucial in the title race.

City are now unbeaten in 10 Premier League games (eight wins, two draws), and have become the first team in English top-flight history to win five consecutive games by a margin of three or more goals.

Guardiola's men also became the first team to have five or more shots on target while scoring each in a Premier League game since Liverpool in December 2019 (a 5-2 win against Everton), thanks in large part to De Bruyne's incredible display of finishing.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the win, Guardiola hailed the midfielder as "incredible" after he reached 19 goals for the season in all competitions, saying he had been City's most important player in the run-in.

"The way he's playing in the last two or three months, especially in the Premier League, has been outstanding. In the Champions League as well," he said. "He has been our key man in the last part of the season. 

"It's not just what he creates and the goals and everything, I'm happy because he always had a sense for the assists and was so generous, always thinking what's best for the team.

"But we always tried to push him, [saying] 'you have to win games, you have to score goals', and this year I think is his most prolific season in this sense."

City were widely criticised after falling to a 6-5 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals last week, but responded with consecutive thrashings of Newcastle United and Wolves.

Guardiola was keen to praise his team's character after they produced a dominant performance on their first away trip since Madrid.

"Did you have any doubts after what these guys have done in the last five years? They have personality, they have character, they have everything," he added. 

"We were in control, we started really well, scored a goal, and one moment where we didn't defend the transition properly we conceded a goal [Leander Dendoncker's equaliser]. After, we found the goal quick and it helped us a lot."

Although City have already hit 94 Premier League goals this season, their attack will be further bolstered after the announcement that Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland has agreed a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola said he was excited to work with the Norway star, who has hit 85 goals in all competitions since joining Dortmund in January 2020, and believes the 21-year-old will have no problem adapting in England.

"It's a decision for the club to make a good signing for the future, he'll come for many, many years, hopefully. I'm pretty sure he'll adapt perfectly to our team, but it will be next season," he added on Haaland.

"I'm excited in my job and of course, I like to work with good players, because the players make you a good manager. 

"Of course, he's an incredible young talent with a perfect age, and I'm pretty sure we're going to help him settle as quickly as possible."

Erling Haaland is a "great player" who is joining a "great club" in Manchester City, but Carlo Ancelotti suggested he is not overly upset at missing out on the much-coveted striker.

City confirmed on Tuesday they have reached an agreement to sign Haaland, who had been linked with an array of clubs across Europe – Ancelotti's Real Madrid among them.

Haaland's 85 goals in 88 games since joining Dortmund in January 2020 is bettered only by Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) across Europe's top five leagues.

But Madrid already boast a prolific striker of their own in Karim Benzema, whose 57 direct goal involvements in all competitions is unmatched in the continent's major divisions.

While Ancelotti has made no secret that he is a fan of Haaland, he is happy with his current squad, having already wrapped up his first LaLiga title and reached the Champions League final thanks to their sensational comeback against City last week.

"I don't really like to talk about this," Ancelotti said at a news conference on Wednesday when asked about Haaland's imminent switch to the Premier League leaders.

"He's a great player, City's a great club. But I'm sticking with my squad, which has led me to enjoy another Champions League final."

Madrid set up a showdown with Liverpool in Paris by overcoming City in a remarkable semi-final tie that they trailed 5-3 with a minute of normal time remaining.

Los Blancos followed that up with a 1-0 loss to rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend in a game that saw Ancelotti make seven changes to his starting line-up.

Ancelotti confirmed the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior will each return for Thursday's visit of Levante, who have lost just one of their last four trips to face Madrid in LaLiga.

Despite the title being secured with four games to spare, Ancelotti insists his side are not yet focusing on their upcoming clash with Liverpool at the Stade de France on May 28.

"The time we have spent together since the Atletico match has been looking only at tomorrow's game," he said. 

"It's important we give minutes to those who didn't play against Atletico, and then we have another game on Sunday. We are not preparing for the final.

"Tomorrow is a game that we have to play well to win. The objective is the same: keep a good rhythm, play well with the ball and win the match.

"If you lose competitiveness, you will not do well. They must rest, but also play in order to reach 100 per cent. 

"All this time it has been said that Ancelotti did not rotate and now that he does, nobody is happy. You have to give minutes to players."

Even with Haaland no longer on the market, Madrid are expected to strengthen in attack, with Mbappe their main target.

But Ancelotti was once again unwilling to discuss any potential targets, with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger another rumoured to be on Madrid's radar. In fact, reports on Tuesday suggested the deal had been done to bring the Germany defender to Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer.

"After the final there will be time to talk about this. For now, we are just aiming to finish the season well," he said.

"Talking about the future transfer window is not correct, I don't want to. I want to talk about tomorrow's match. It is the day to talk about this, not about alleged new signings."

Sadio Mane has been speculated as a potential Ballon d'Or winner in recent weeks.

And the Liverpool forward is also gathering speculation about his club future.

The 30-year-old helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations in February and has netted 15 goals in Liverpool's Premier League title challenge.

TOP STORY – BARCA TO SWOOP FOR BAYERN TARGET MANE

Barcelona are ready to swoop in to sign Liverpool's Mane amid reported interest from Bayern Munich, Mundo Deportivo claims.

The Senegal international is reportedly interested in a switch and is moving into the final 12 months of his Liverpool contract.

Barcelona have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland who will join Manchester City and are determined to land an elite forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry is drawing attention from several clubs, with Real Madrid among the clubs interested, according to Fichajes.

- Newcastle United have made contact with Philippe Coutinho about a move, reports Goal. Coutinho is currently on loan with Aston Villa from Barcelona.

- The Guardian claims that West Ham United are plotting an off-season move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins. Villa would demand a £50m fee for the forward.

- Manchester United and Newcastle are both interested in signing Napoli's Victor Osimhen, claims Calciomercato. Napoli want 100m euros (£85.5m) for the Nigerian forward.

- Super Deporte claims that Sevilla are interested in a transfer for Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe.

Paul Dickov says Erling Haaland will complement Manchester City despite the array of talent already there, propelling them to a higher level.

Ending months of speculation on Tuesday, City confirmed Haaland's transfer from Borussia Dortmund has been agreed in principle.

Meanwhile, City are in the box seat to win their second consecutive Premier League title and sixth in ten years, level with Liverpool atop the table but with a game in hand.

Dickov, who played for the Sky Blues alongside Haaland's father Alf-Inge, spoke exclusively with Stats Perform and believes the 21-year-old striker will help City progress even further under Pep Guardiola.

"They won it last year without having an out-and-out centre forward," Dickov said. "I know it's so tight this year, but as we stand at the minute, it's a little bit of an advantage to Manchester City - they've shown they can do it without signing one.

"I think if Erling Haaland had been in this team this year, City would have been out of sight weeks ago, and so on. It's scary to think about it, but it's going to take them to a completely different level now.

"I've followed Erling a long time, obviously, the connection I've got with his dad, and the improvement from his first time for Dortmund to now. His all-round game even in the last season or so, for somebody that's only 21, the maturity of the game management, it shows when he went there, there was an out-and-out goal scorer that he is now."

 

The Norway international has scored 28 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions despite an injury-interrupted campaign.

Irrespective of the talent-packed squad City already have and Guardiola's setup, Dickov is confident Haaland will fill the void up front for City, who were strongly linked with Harry Kane last season.

"The people can argue against that and say City scored five at the weekend, a couple of weeks ago against Watford, four against Leeds, you know, but they have been missing that out and out number nine," he said.

"I think any player that comes in to Manchester City, it's a new way of playing for them. A new style, they've got quality players within there already, and I look at Erling's improvement.

"With players like De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, and you could go on and on, but the amount of chances that they do create, they've just needed an out-and-out finisher to do it and Erling Haaland is one of the best in the world."

Jurgen Klopp believes despite Erling Haaland's individual quality, Manchester City will improve him and not the other way around.

Liverpool's Premier League title rivals confirmed on Tuesday they have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for Haaland's transfer.

The 21-year-old has scored 28 goals in 29 appearances for Dortmund this year and will be expected to fill the void up front for City, who were strongly linked with Harry Kane last year.

Klopp was quick to suggest that while Haaland is an undeniable talent, the nature of City's play under Pep Guardiola means they are more likely to transform the Norwegian striker than adjust to him.

"City was never and will never be a team that wins games because of one player," Klopp told reporters after seeing his Liverpool team beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Tuesday.

"There's a specific way to play, and I think Erling will realise he will score a lot of goals on the second post if he just puts a foot onto it.

"He will love that, and now we have other situations where he's a real beast. He was now injured a couple of times at Dortmund but when he's a fit he's a real beast. Unfortunately, a really good signing."

Liverpool momentarily moved level on points with City atop the Premier League following their triumph at Villa Park, but the defending champions play their game in hand against Wolves on Wednesday.

Even when Jack Grealish charged into the penalty area in the 87th at the Santiago Bernabeu last week and saw his shot cleared off the line by Ferland Mendy, there seemed no way Manchester City wouldn't be in the Champions League final.

They were already 1-0 up on the night, 5-3 up on aggregate. Real Madrid had three minutes plus stoppage time to turn things around – even for a side that produced some memorable comebacks en route to the semi-finals, turning things around looked impossible.

Yet we all know how the tale unfolded in a matter of minutes, with City's Champions League aspirations dissolving for another season.

Over the course of the two legs, City were comfortably the better team and few would disagree with the idea that they're almost certainly better equipped than Madrid to stop Liverpool in the final.

City's failure served to highlight a key deficiency in their squad. Whether that's fair or not is up for debate, because they look destined to win the Premier League title again and no one would've questioned the legitimacy of them seeing off Madrid, but when the victor is led by the type of figure the loser is lacking, it's an easy conclusion to jump to.

Karim Benzema may not have been at his unplayable best in the second leg last week, but he won and converted the ultimately decisive penalty, and the effectiveness with which he led the line in the first leg ensured Madrid were still in with a shout upon the return to Spain.

City will now hope they have such a goalscoring talisman in Erling Haaland.

The club confirmed on Tuesday that Haaland will join at the end of the season, with City apparently set to pay £51.3million (€60m) to Borussia Dortmund for his transfer. Even when you consider the apparently significant agents' fees et cetera, it's difficult to see this as anything other than a bargain for City.

Of course, while the timing of the signing might frame it as a reaction to Champions League elimination, it's clearly not. Reports have suggested for weeks that the deal was virtually done and Haaland was going to follow in his father's footsteps by signing for City.

However, it's hard not to look at the deal through the prism of Champions League failure because of what will now be expected – rather than hoped for – with a player like Haaland in the team.

When trying to understand what has specifically gone wrong for City in the Champions League since Guardiola was hired, most people seem to have different opinions. Some might point to an apparent lack of on-field leaders, others highlight wastefulness at crucial moments, and of course there are many who have bemoaned Pep's dreaded "overthinking".

The idea of there being a lack of on-field leaders has always seemed wide of the mark, while no one can accuse Guardiola of overcomplicating his selections against Madrid – even if they did try to claim that, City were on course for the final until the 90th minute of the second leg.

Similarly, wastefulness is something most clubs can be accused of at one time or another and, in fact, across all the Champions League ties from which City have been eliminated under Guardiola, they have scored 17 times from 16.99 expected goals (xG). Granted, there were occasions where they didn't score as often as they should have, but over time it evens itself out.

Yet perhaps this is where Haaland can make the difference. Sure, City's xG has evened out over the unsuccessful ties in question, but with a striker as freakishly deadly as the Norwegian, there becomes a greater opportunity to finish chances that maybe you wouldn't generally expect to.

Haaland is a pure finisher unlike any other player in the world. Since his Bundesliga debut on January 18, 2020, he has scored 85 times from 69.7 xG across all competitions. Similarly, when excluding penalties he remains almost as potent, with 75 goals from 60.2 np-xG.

In both instances he has scored roughly 15 more goals than he should have based on the quality of his chances – among players with 30 or more goals over the same period, only Son Heung-min (16.1 and 16.5) can boast better xG differential figures. Again, ordinarily you'd expect this to even out over time, with such form usually unsustainable – but when you make the implausible look routine, this is the output you can produce.

One thing you cannot accuse City of is being ineffective when it comes to controlling football matches and creating chances – they wouldn't be about to claim a third Premier League title in four years if they were.

But in knockout ties when there is such a limited amount of time to respond to setbacks or make amends for certain mistakes, whether that's defensive or in front of goal, the value of the greatest strikers can shine through even more: Benzema showed that against City.

While there are likely to be stylistic compatibility questions to be asked regarding City and Haaland, particularly given the Premier League champions-elect haven't really played with an out-and-out striker for a couple of years now, they suddenly have arguably the finest finisher of his generation in their arsenal.

If Haaland isn't the final piece of the puzzle in City's quest for a maiden Champions League crown, Guardiola might as well give up.

Borussia Dortmund have confirmed the signing of Germany international Karim Adeyemi from Salzburg ahead of Erling Haaland's imminent departure to Manchester City.

Boyhood Dortmund fan Adeyemi completed a medical on Tuesday and has signed a five-year deal with the Bundesliga side, who are reported to have paid an initial €30million.

The 20-year-old's arrival was announced around an hour after City confirmed an agreement has been reached to sign Haaland from Dortmund at the end of the season.

Adeyemi becomes Dortmund's third signing ahead of the transfer window officially opening, following the additions of defensive duo Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck.

"After the transfers of Sule and Schlotterbeck, we are getting another very exciting player for next season with Karim Adeyemi," Sebastian Kehl, who will take over as sporting director from 2022-23, told the club's website.

"What is more, he is someone who has a strong affinity for BVB, who supported the Black and Yellows as a youngster and who decided to sign for Borussia Dortmund amidst several offers from Europe's top leagues. 

"His speed and goal-scoring ability are impressive, and although Karim, at just 20 years old, is already at a very advanced stage in his development as a footballer and athlete, we still see enormous potential for more."

Haaland leaves a huge void to be filled at the Westfalenstadion, having scored 85 goals in 88 games since joining the club – also from Salzburg – at the start of 2020.

Replacement Adeyemi has himself made a big impact in his three seasons with Salzburg, the past two of those as a first-team regular.

He has scored 27 goals in 66 Austrian Bundesliga appearances, also netting five times in 13 Champions League outings.

The young forward, who was wanted by Manchester United, leads the scoring charts in the Austrian top flight this season with 19 goals in 27 games.

Adeyemi's performances for Salzburg earned him the first of his three Germany senior caps in September's World Cup qualifier against Armenia, a game in which he scored as a late substitute.  

And having helped Salzburg to six trophies, he is now seeking more success with Marco Rose's men.

"As a young boy I was fascinated by the Black and Yellows' fast-paced football," he said. "That's why, as soon as I heard Dortmund were interested in me, I knew I wanted to sign with BVB. 

"I made the conscious decision to sign a long-term deal because I'm convinced we're going to form an exciting team that, with the support of the amazing fans in Dortmund, will be able to compete for and win titles in the years to come."

The worst-kept secret in football is finally out – Erling Haaland will be a Manchester City player from next season onwards.

The Norway international will bring the curtain down on a two-and-a-half-year stay with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga to join the Premier League champions, who confirmed a deal in principle on Tuesday.

The arrival of the Leeds-born forward at the Etihad Stadium – to a club where his father played two decades ago – brings one of the game's hottest talents to British shores.

In addition, it fills the gap Pep Guardiola has sought to occupy since Sergio Aguero's exit at the end of last term and further bolsters City's already fearsome arsenal.

As the Opta numbers from his time at Dortmund illustrate, Haaland could well prove to be the man that finally makes the difference for City in the Champions League.

3 – The number of minutes it took Haaland to score on debut for Dortmund against Augsburg, after coming on as a second-half substitute. He went on to score a hat-trick.

85  Haaland has scored 85 goals since arriving in Germany from Salzburg at the start of 2020. Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (122) and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (89) are the only two players across Europe's top five leagues to have scored more in that span.

86.84 – The minutes-per-goal average posted so far by Haaland across his Dortmund career in the Bundesliga. He has recorded a marginally lesser 86.90 this season alone.

23 – Haaland's all-time goal haul in the Champions League, the most a player has scored by the age of 21, two ahead of Mbappe.

2 – The number of players to have scored more Champions League goals than Haaland since his competition debut – Lewandowski (33) and Karim Benzema (26).

14  Haaland needed just 14 games to score 20 goals in the Champions League, the fewest in the competition's history ahead of Harry Kane (24).

64  His minutes-per-goal ratio in the Champions League, which is the best among players to have scored 20-plus goals in the competition. Mario Gomez (102) is second.

32.31 – The conversion rate enjoyed by the Norway star in the Bundesliga this term.

It is finally official. Manchester City will be the new home of Erling Haaland next season after the announcement of an agreement with Borussia Dortmund for the superstar's capture.

Barring an unexpected issue with personal terms, the striker will arrive after two and a half years in the Bundesliga to bring even more firepower to the Premier League champions.

Having flirted with Tottenham's Harry Kane throughout last year's pre-season transfer window without landing their man, City have decided to go down the Haaland route to finally bring in the number nine they have sought since Sergio Aguero left.

Pep Guardiola has told anyone who will listen all season how incredible it is that his team has maintained the standards they have "without a striker", which can't have made Gabriel Jesus feel all that good about himself, let's be honest.

But can Haaland replace the significant impact of club legend Aguero? Stats Perform has taken a look at the numbers to determine the potential impact of the Norway sensation.

More than just "Agueroooo"

When you reel off a list of the greatest players to don a City shirt, Aguero's name is likely to feature prominently.

The Argentine striker played a huge role in taking the club from top-four contenders to the most dominant team in England, winning five Premier League titles, six EFL Cups and an FA Cup.

Aguero scored 260 goals in 390 games for City, averaging a goal every 107 minutes over his 10 years at the club.

He, of course, will also forever be synonymous with the famous stoppage time goal against QPR in 2012 that sealed City's first Premier League title, snatching it from the hands of Manchester United with almost the last kick of the season.

Despite his undoubted quality, there were some questions about how he would fare under Guardiola when the Catalan coach arrived in 2016.

While Guardiola had played with orthodox strikers before, arguably his crowning achievement was cultivating a Barcelona team that many still believe to this day is the greatest club side the game has ever seen – and that broadly played without a number nine, with Lionel Messi often used in a false nine role.

He did utilise Robert Lewandowski to good effect while at Bayern Munich, though, and while he did not exactly make Aguero his first name on the teamsheet every week, the overall development in quality of the team led to the striker actually improving his own numbers.

Under Guardiola, Aguero played 182 games, scoring 124 goals at a rate of 102 minutes per goal.

Unfortunately, injuries hindered Aguero in his final two seasons before he bade a tearful goodbye at the end of last season to join Barcelona. He was then forced to retire from the game altogether in December on health grounds, but the forward's significant impact at City will never be in question.

 

Step forward the second-generation sensation

It almost sounds like something out of the Football Manager computer game series. The son of former Leeds United and City player Alf-Inge Haaland goes on to become one of the best strikers in world football? Yeah, sure.

Well, it's true. Haaland burst onto the scene as he scored goals at rates rarely seen before at Salzburg, before making the move to Dortmund in the January transfer window of 2020, and he has not looked back since.

Haaland has bagged 85 goals in 88 games for BVB in all competitions, which works out at a goal every 84 minutes. Not bad for someone who only turns 22 in July.

But how does he compare to Aguero? It is difficult to make comparisons given the difference in style, experience and leagues, but to try to get a good idea, let's look at Haaland's two and a half years in the Bundesliga compared to Aguero's first three Premier League campaigns under Guardiola.

In Haaland's 66 league games for Dortmund – in which he has scored 61 goals, averaging 87 minutes per goal – he has attempted 3.5 shots per 90, with a shot conversion rate of 29.9 per cent, and he has scored 62.0 per cent of his 'big chances' (chances from which Opta would expect a player to score).

He has also averaged 3.3 shots from inside the penalty area per 90, notable with City spending so much time camped around opposition boxes.

Between 2016 and 2019, Aguero played 89 Premier League matches for City, scoring 62 goals at an average of one every 111 minutes.

The Argentinian averaged 4.6 shots per 90, with a shot conversion rate of 17.7 per cent, scoring from 53.9 per cent of his big chances, with an average of 3.6 shots from inside the penalty area.

It therefore appears that Haaland is actually the deadlier finisher, which is quite an achievement next to someone as good as Aguero, and one would assume Haaland's shot numbers will increase playing in a more dominant team like City, who always create plenty of chances.

 

It might be argued that goals in the Bundesliga do not always translate into goals in the Premier League. For example, Timo Werner scored 28 goals in 34 games in his last league campaign at RB Leipzig before joining Chelsea, where he has scored just 10 in 56 Premier League appearances.

However, even allowing for a period of adaption, it would take a brave person to bet against Haaland being a success in England based on his career to date.

Already outstanding in a single season without Aguero, City have seemingly identified the man to fill those big boots.

Erling Haaland will become a Manchester City player at the end of the season after the Premier League club confirmed an agreement in principle to sign the Borussia Dortmund star.

The prolific Norway striker has been one of the most sought-after players in the world and will now follow in the footsteps of his father Alf-Inge Haaland, who played for City between 2000 and 2003.

City, who had previously been reported as ready to meet the release clause of €75million (£64.2m) in the 21-year-old's contract, announced a deal subject to personal terms on Tuesday.

A statement on the club's website read: "Manchester City can confirm we have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of striker Erling Haaland to the Club on 1st July 2022.

"The transfer remains subject to the Club finalising terms with the player."

 

Haaland has struggled with injuries this season, but has still managed 28 goals in 29 games in all competitions for Dortmund.

Only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has a better ratio (1.13) of goals per 90 minutes in Europe's top five leagues in all competitions than Haaland's 1.1.

Since arriving in Germany from Salzburg at the start of 2020, only Lewandowski (122) and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (89) have scored more than Haaland's 85 goals, with City's new recruit behind just Lewandowski (1.18) in terms of goals per game (1.07) in that time.

Erling Haaland will become a Manchester City player at the end of the season after the Premier League club confirmed an agreement in principle to sign the Borussia Dortmund star.

 

Pep Guardiola would not confirm that Manchester City will be signing Erling Haaland, but he teased that "everybody knows the situation".

Haaland has been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium from Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, with City said to be ready to trigger the striker's release clause, believed to be around €75million (£64.2m).

Speaking at a media conference ahead of his team's trip to Wolves in the Premier League, Guardiola explained he could not talk about any transfer, but did say it was because the two clubs involved told him not to.

"Everybody knows the situation," Guardiola told reporters. "I shouldn't talk because I don't like to talk about the future or next season.

"Dortmund and Man City told me I'm not allowed to say anything until it's completely done. We'll have time to talk.

"I'd love to talk, they tell me don't say anything until the legal actions [are done]. We'll have time to talk, not because I don't want to."

Norwegian striker Haaland has scored 85 goals in 88 games for Dortmund, though City have not exactly struggled for goals themselves this season, hitting five against Newcastle United on Sunday, meaning they have now bagged 89 goals in 35 Premier League games, more than anyone else.

Guardiola said new players can always help his team to improve, whether it comes in the form of transfers or through the youth set-up, and insisted he approves of the steps the club are taking.

"We have I guess new players in the squad, some from the academy come up next season," he said. "New players always helps [us] to be a stronger team. But not one defender or striker will solve our defensive or scoring problems.

"The club always has to have a vision for the future. The decisions the club makes I am aware and supportive 100 per cent."

The 5-0 win against Newcastle took City back to the top of the table, leading Liverpool by three points ahead of both teams' midweek fixtures.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds were travelling to face Aston Villa on Tuesday before City's game at Wolves on Wednesday, and Guardiola understands that the quality of Liverpool means the clash at Molineux is a final for his team.

"Nothing changes, we can't affect what Liverpool do," he said.

"Both teams have done another impressive season. We know what we have to do, we will try to be there. Tomorrow is a final for us, an opportunity to arrive in the last game here with the title in our hands. It's massive for us."

The City boss also confirmed that none of his injured players will return on Wednesday, with defenders Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias not expected to play again this season.

"Nothing changed after the game against Newcastle," Guardiola said. "We are who we are for the next three games with the players we have. We have problems in one department, the others will solve it."

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