Pep Guardiola believes Erling Haaland would be content at Manchester City even if the club were to change manager.
With Guardiola’s contract due to expire at the end of next season, the City manager has said there is no guarantee he will agree to fresh terms, with a decision on his future to be taken at that point. On Wednesday, the club signed the 21-year-old centre-forward on an expected five-year deal, the length of which suggests the Norwegian will be expecting to play under Guardiola for longer than 12 months.
“The players who come here don’t come to play for me, they come to play in this league and for this club,” said Guardiola. “It’s so important the people [fans], the way we play, the team we are, the city, where we are in the league, how we are expected to play in the Champions League the next seasons. Many things are involved.
“People come not just for a month or a year. Sergio [Agüero] came here and did 10 years, David Silva came here and did 10 years and Vincent [Kompany, actually 11] the same and Yaya Touré [eight years]. Many important players arrive here and stay a long time. How long depends if they are happy here.
“What we do is make them feel happy in the city, in the locker room, playing in the Premier League and many things. After that, who knows what will happen. But this is the idea.”
Guardiola indicated Haaland, as with all City signings, will have to show he has the right mentality to suit the club. “Everything is in the head, every action you do comes from here – how you handle the pressure and mentality,” he said. “But when you arrive at a club like City and other clubs around the world with standards you either adapt or you can’t be here. There is no secret about that. We have to prove ourselves, myself, too.”
Guardiola is not concerned that City’s demanding standards makes it harder to find footballers of the requisite class. ‘There are many top quality players around the world that could fit in here. Without a doubt.” he said. “The world is so big and has a thousand million teams and top, talented players who could play here, for sure.
“If there are players with a specially good mentality that want to win again, win again and win again every day [that’s what we want]. The big difference is that the top players can handle the big teams. That is the most important thing to find.”
City visit West Ham on Sunday and victory would put them within a point of retaining the title. City have 94 goals and scored 19 in their past four league games, so is reaching 100 in a priority? “Winning the Premier League is important,” he said. “If we score 99 that will be good. But the important thing is to win the Premier League.
“We mathematically need four points but we are going to play to win the first one and after then the second one against Aston Villa with our people when everything will be sold out [at the Etihad Stadium] in order to make three points and win the title. That is our only target. That is why it’s West Ham, West Ham and West Ham. Not the future, not anything else. The present is the most important.”