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Erling Haaland can still get better, according to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
As reported by BBC Sport, the City manager says his lethal striker can improve with more minutes on the pitch. Norwegian Haaland was absent from the 2022 World Cup after his national team failed to qualify for the tournament.
Guardiola revealed that the player trained just once during the club’s warm weather camp in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
But he has picked up from where he left off before the tournament, with the striker scoring early on in the Carabao Cup round of 16 tie against Liverpool.
He then netted a double in Wednesday’s Premier League victory over Leeds. The 22-year-old now has 26 goals from his 20 games in all competitions this season.
Guardiola: Haaland can only get better
While City manager Guardiola is unsurprisingly overjoyed with his lethal forward, he believes there is more to come from the Norwegian.
The boss says the striker is still not 100%, much like he was after the foot injury he suffered against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in October.
“He is still not at his best, as he was at the beginning of the season,” said Guardiola. “But the injury he had at Dortmund affected him for a long period. To move his huge body is not easy for him but the more minutes he can play, the better he will be.”
Man City striker ‘knows exactly where the ball is going to land’
Haaland sits top of the Premier League scoring charts this season with 20 goals from his 14 games. He also has five Champions League goals, with his other strike this season coming in the League Cup.
“I had the feeling in the first half of the season, [the chance we had] in the first minute against Liverpool [in the Carabao Cup], and today in the second minute against Leeds, it’s a goal,” Guardiola said after the Leeds match.
“It is these details that are a little [less] sharp. But every cross, every action he is there. He has incredible sense; I didn’t teach him one concept about being in the box. He moves really well and knows exactly where the ball is going to land.”
Haaland ‘more hungry than ever’
Haaland netted his 20th Premier League goal against Leeds in just his 14th appearance, making him the quickest player to reach the tally in the competition.
It’s well ahead of the likes of Kevin Phillips and Andrew Cole, who achieved the feat after 21 and 23 games respectively.
He was forced to watch on away from Qatar as the likes of star players Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe battled it out on the big stage.
But given both his age and the fact the next World Cup will involve a total of 48 teams, there is every chance that Haaland will represent Norway in the tournament in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Earlier this month, however, Haaland was driven mad by the fact he could not compete. It has, however, motivated him to up his game even further.
“I’ve been at home, being a bit mad that I’m not playing at the World Cup,” said Haaland.
“To watch other people score to win games at the World Cup kind of triggers me, kind of motivates me and irritates me. I’m more hungry and I’m more ready than ever.”
That's 20 league goals scored in just 14 games for @ErlingHaaland 👊
A new @premierleague record! 💥 pic.twitter.com/Q8v2YjlwME
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 29, 2022