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Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has revealed details of his text message exchange with Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.
The revelation comes ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash between Leeds and Man City at Elland Road. The hosts go into their first league game after the 2022 World Cup sitting 15th in the table, with City sitting third.
Pep Guardiola’s side have already played since the tournament in Qatar ended, defeating Liverpool 3-2 in the Carabao Cup round of 16 last week.
Deadly striker Haaland was on target that evening at the Etihad, and Leeds boss Marsch is preparing his side for a tricky encounter against the lethal forward.
Haaland has 24 goals from his 19 matches in all competitions this season, with 18 of those goals coming in the Premier League. The entire Leeds team combined have netted just four more than Haaland in the current league campaign.
Haaland ‘most excited’ for Leeds encounter
Marsch has revealed that Haaland has been hugely looking forward to the game for some time, ever since the fixture list came out in the summer.
Haaland has plenty of connections with the manager, with the pair having worked together during their time at RB Salzburg.
Marsch was the man in the dugout for Haaland’s breakthrough campaign in Austria. Moreover, the striker was born in the city of Leeds while his father Alf-Inge was playing for the club.
“Erling texted me as soon as the schedule came out,” said Marsch, as reported by talkSPORT. “He said that he’s most excited for Boxing Day. I gave him permission to have a small hamstring injury for that match.”
Marsch expecting striker to be ‘fully ready’
Haaland hit 29 goals from his 27 RB Salzburg games, with the striker quickly making a move to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. In Germany, he scored 86 goals from 89 games, with such form earning him a switch to Manchester in the summer.
He has hit the ground running under Guardiola but, as noted by Marsch, the Norwegian already has strong links to English football.
“He was born here, his father has history with the club, he has the club in his heart because of that,” said Marsch. “It’s something that we talked about before when I got the job, him and his father were both incredibly supportive and excited for me.
“We’ll expect him to be fully ready and passionate about this match which causes issues for us. I know how good he is and how good he can be.”
Haaland looking to guide City to second
City have the chance to go back to second with the game on Wednesday evening. They saw Newcastle overtake them into that spot after the Magpies beat Leicester 3-0 on Boxing Day.
Guardiola’s men have 32 points from their 14 matches, with Eddie Howe’s side on 33 points. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal remain top, and are now on 40 points after a 3-1 win over West Ham.
Haaland failed to find the back of the net in the 2-1 loss to Brentford earlier this month, in what was City’s final league game before the break for the World Cup. He has failed to score in just three of his 13 league matches this season.
Viking mode 𝗔𝗖𝗧𝗜𝗩𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗗 🔵 #mancity pic.twitter.com/Sy2dh3Dg4l
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) December 26, 2022