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E. Haaland

Guardiola warns Haaland he 'cannot be contaminated with nice words' from Leeds ahead of Man City's trip to Elland Road

8:49 AM GMT 28/12/2022
ERLING HAALAND MANCHESTER CITY 22122022
Pep Guardiola has warned Erling Haaland that he "cannot be contaminated by nice words" from Leeds as he prepares to return to his city of birth.
  • Haaland was born in Leeds
  • Guardiola urged Haaland not to be softened by plaudits
  • Leeds coach showered praise on the striker

WHAT HAPPENED? The Norwegian striker was born in Leeds in 2000 during his father Alf-Inge's three-year stint with the Whites, which ended when he joined City. Haaland followed both clubs growing up, and it has been suggested he will be given a warm reception by the Elland Road faithful when taking in a homecoming trip with the Premier League champions. However, Guardiola has warned him to remain focused on the job at hand and not get "contaminated" by the emotion of the occasion.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It will not be a friendly game. They want to win, we want to win. Their fans will push their team. Hopefully, Erling cannot be contaminated with the nice words from the opponent. I think he will be ready and I'm pretty sure Jesse [Marsch] would prefer to play with our good players on the pitch," Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Haaland returned to action with a bang as he scored in City's 3-2 victory over Liverpool in the last 16 of the League Cup. That effort took his overall tally for the campaign to 24 goals from 19 appearances, but he was laid low with a foot injury before the World Cup break. Guardiola admits that his recovery has been a painful one, but also says he is getting stronger with each passing week. "I think he will be ready. Day by day he’s getting better. As much, he can train, he will get his condition," said the City boss. "The injury is completely different to last season. It was a knock in his feet in Dortmund when we played Champions League. The doctor says his damage his ligament in his feet is so painful, it’s not easy to recover. That’s why he struggled. But muscular issues and everything is perfect and now he is much, much, much better. Now it’s a question of time. Of course, we need him."

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WHAT NEXT? Guardiola expects Haaland to continue with his rich vein of form when City take on Leeds at Elland Road on Wednesday, with a home fixture against Everton set to follow on New Year's Eve.