Man City boss Pep Guardiola insists he is relaxed about reports in Spain suggesting Erling Haaland is unhappy in England and wants a move to Real Madrid.
Media in Guardiola’s homeland claim the Norwegian would be open to a switch to the Spanish capital in the summer, with Real prepared to activate a release fee – despite also having an interest in Paris St-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.
However, Guardiola was unruffled by the speculation, instead revealing Haaland could start the Monday Night Football trip to Brentford, which is live on Sky Sports.
“He’s ready,” Guardiola said with a smile when asked about whether Haaland could build on his substitute cameo against Burnley with a starting spot at the Gtech Community Stadium. Haaland had been out since early December with a foot problem.
Addressing the transfer speculation the day after Deadline Day for the winter window, Guardiola said: “I don’t know, you have to ask the media from Madrid if [Haaland’s camp] are happy. Maybe they have more info than we have.
“I, we, don’t have that feeling he’s unhappy. He was because he didn’t play for two months, injured. But maybe the media from Spain, especially Madrid, have more information than us.
“You cannot say he didn’t adapt quickly or he was not fine since he arrived [given] the level he showed since day one.
“We can’t control what you [the media] say or the people say. If he’s happy or not happy, he will take his decision.”
Haaland – City’s top scorer during their historic treble-winning campaign last season – is contracted until 2027 after joining the club from Borussia Dortmund for £51.2m in 2022.
Guardiola praises Toney ahead of star-striker showdown at Brentford
Despite his time out with injury, Haaland remains joint-top scorer in the Premier League this season with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah on 14 goals. However, he will come up against another highly-rated forward on Monday, with Ivan Toney leading the line for the Londoners.
Toney made it two goals in two games since his return from a betting ban with a strike in Brentford’s defeat to Tottenham on Wednesday and Guardiola was full of praise for the England international’s talents.
“He’s an exceptional player,” said Guardiola. “Not just with the long balls, with the keeping [of possession], set-pieces, the penalties are a guarantee, with the free-kicks, they can link with him…
“He’s an extraordinary player. I’m happy he’s back and hopefully that period [where he was banned] is forgotten in his life [for him and] his family.
Watch Brentford vs Man City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 6.30pm on Monday, kick-off 8pm.