Erling Haaland believes he can play a key role in delivering the Champions League title that Manchester City are craving.
The Etihad Stadium giants have scooped the Premier League title in four of the past five seasons, but they have yet to be crowned kings of Europe.
That rankles, as City believe they are ideally equipped to challenge the continent’s best, and the arrival of a clinical striker of Haaland’s ilk should only strengthen their hand.
By bringing in the 21-year-old from Borussia Dortmund, City have made a statement signing, landing a player the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have also admired.
When it was put to Haaland that he might be “a big piece in the jigsaw” when it comes to City’s Champions League aspirations, Haaland gave a strong clue regarding his ambition on that front.
“What I’m going to say, and I’ve said it before, the Champions League is my favourite competition. So I think you have your answer there,” he told a news conference.
“This is a big challenge, it’s a new country, a new league, a new coach. But I know how it is to come to a new club. I’ve done it a couple of times before, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“[I will handle pressure] like I’ve been doing my whole career, trying to enjoy every single minute, every moment and trying not to think too much because overthinking is not a good thing for every human being. I try to relax when I can relax and enjoy every single moment I can and to work hard.”
Haaland has gone from Bryne to Molde, to Salzburg, then on to Dortmund, and now he has switched to City. He believes the career trajectory, guided by his father Alf-Inge and his late agent Mino Raiola, has gone as well as anyone could have hoped.
“We’ve been doing every step perfectly now,” Haaland said. “I have a good and small team around me that is focused a lot.
“I have really good friends from my home town, and I have people who push me when they should push me and stop me when they should stop me. I have a really good mix of people around me that make me better every day, and that’s what I want.”
Haaland said facing City in the Champions League with Dortmund in April 2021, when Pep Guardiola’s side won 2-1 in each leg of the quarter-final, had been an eye-opener when it came to appreciating the team’s quality.
“You see something on TV, and when you meet it, it’s completely different,” Haaland said. “I didn’t touch the ball for 25 minutes in the game.
“It’s a different level, I have to say, how they approach and play the game and how they create chances, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”
He put his decision to join City down to “the feeling in my stomach”, convinced they are the right team for him.
Haaland wants to make an instant impact and pointed to how he hit the ground running with Dortmund in January 2020, helped by a player now at Manchester United.
“In Dortmund, it worked really well with Jadon Sancho,” Haaland said. “In my debut, after one minute he assisted me, a really nice ball from him and a nice goal, and it’s about getting to know each other to play with each other, so we can perform at the highest level.
“I’ve watched Manchester City ever since Pep Guardiola took over in 2016, so I think I know exactly how they play, and I think I know a lot about everything.”