Pep Guardiola jokes he took off Haaland to preserve Messi's record

‘I didn’t want him to break the record for Messi!’: Pep Guardiola jokes he took Erling Haaland off against Burnley in the FA Cup to preserve his old Barcelona star’s record… as he claims ‘joy of life’ is behind Norwegian’s incredible goal scoring

  • Erling Haaland took his season’s tally to 42 with a sixth hat-trick of the season
  • Pep Guardiola says he likes to ‘punish’ players after taking Halland off again 
  • Vincent Kompany likened the striker to Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane and Ronaldinho

Pep Guardiola has put Erling Haaland’s incredible scoring run down to his ‘joy of life’ as beaten Burnley boss Vinny Kompany admitted the Manchester City striker is on the way to be an elite player like Ronaldo and Messi.

Haaland took his season’s tally to 42 with a sixth hat-trick of the season in Saturday’s 6-0 FA Cup rout against Burnley, matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s best tally for Manchester United when he won the Ballon d’Or.

The Norwegian will soon pass Mo Salah and Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League era record of 44 goals in all competitions, with Clive Allen’s 49 for Tottenham in 1986/87 also under threat. Dixie Dean’s 60 goals in the 1920s would be the ultimate personal achievement.

Guardiola said: ‘This guy (Haaland) will have a problem in the future because everyone will expect to him to get three or four every game, and that’s not going to happen.

‘But I know him, he doesn’t care about that. He is so positive and optimistic in his life. He never complains and as long as the team plays with this intensity, he will score goals, though the exact target, I don’t know.

Erling Haaland took his season’s tally to 42 with a sixth hat-trick of the season against Burnley

Pep Guardiola heaped praise on the striker before claiming his ‘joy of life’ has been the key 

‘He is so effective and is such an incredible threat with his power. But his joy of life, always thinking good things will happen, that helps too.’

Guardiola took Haaland off towards the end having also substituted him in midweek against Leipzig thereby denying him the chance to be the first player to score six goals in one Champions League.

The City manager, criticised on that occasion for robbing his player of the opportunity to surpass Lionel Messi’s five for Barcelona against Leverkusen, came up with a quick one-liner when asked about substituting his centre-forward again.

‘I didn’t want him to break the record for Messi in the FA Cup,’ he quipped. ‘I try to punish my players – it is my intention!’

Progress into the FA Cup semi-finals means a possible Treble is still possible, though City have a tough Champions League tie against Guardiola’s former club Bayern Munich to come.

‘To be alive in three competitions is incredible. The best is coming and hopefully we can handle it game by game,’ said the manager.

‘We have to win nearly all the games in the Premier League because Arsenal are playing so good and it is an honour to play Bayern.

‘I had the feeling the players have started to feel we could not lose any game or it would be over. That is when we are at our best. In the Premier League, we have to win, win and the Champions League is what it is.

Guardiola joked he took Haaland off to preserve Messi’s record against Bayer Leverkusen

Vincent Kompany likened Haaland to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zidane and Ronaldinho

TV pundit Alan Shearer said of Haaland, who has now scored nine goals in a week: ‘He’s a beast. He’s a goal scoring machine. He lives, breathes for goals. If he doesn’t score them, he doesn’t sleep at night

Beaten manager Vincent Kompany added: ‘I think he is an exciting player. He has the athleticism and pace and has a good feeling where the ball bounces. He reacts like a poacher.

‘He’ll get even better, no doubt. He is also at the right place for his development, with the right coach.

‘I have played against the greats of their time, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane, Ronaldinho. They they are part of a special elite. I think even if the very best try to stop those guys. they will find a way. Someone like Erling will keep finding a way.

‘The biggest thing is he is a superstar still willing to improve. His goalscoring record puts him in a special level. That is the hardest part of his game. If he continues to do that, he is going to be one of the best. It is not something you experience a lot.’

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