Pep Guardiola sent out a frightening message to the Premier League that he thinks Erling Haaland will help already free-scoring Man City score even more next season.
Kevin De Bruyne scored four goals as City overwhelmed Wolves 5-1 at Molineux to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League table and move within four points of the title.
The brilliant Belgian has now scored eight goals in his last eight Premier League games as his influence in the final third is proving to be one of the main reasons behind City’s relentless title push.
Guardiola said: “What can I say? The second part of the league he has been beyond perfect.
“He is a guy who is always so generous, always has the sense to make the assist. But I think this season he has also had the sense to be prolific to score goals. He scored against Chelsea, he scored against Madrid, and he has been decisive scoring goals. In the end this is what makes the greatest.
“I am very pleased for him because, of course, scoring four goals in the decisive part of the league it is so important.”
De Bruyne is now City’s top goalscorer in the Premier League with 15 goals to his name, taking him to a personal record goal-haul in a single season. Goals in big games have been scored too with De Bruyne on target in both fixtures with Liverpool and in the 1-0 win over Chelsea in January.
Guardiola is delighted to see the Belgian enjoying the feeling of scoring more goals, sayinf: “We have spoken. Not now, but during the years. You have to arrive in the box, you have to be close to the box, you have to score. This season was the year that he has done better and better. Hopefully he can continue not just this year but the rest of his career.
“I have the feeling that now he has started to enjoy scoring goals. Before it was just assists. Now I think he has the feeling that he likes it when his team-mates come and hug him after he has scored a goal.”
City have become the first team in English top-flight history to win five consecutive league games by a margin of at least three goals, achieving that feat while in the midst of the pressure-cooker environment of a title race.
It’s led to them winning their last five Premier League games to an aggregate score of 22-1 as they are the top goalscorers in not only the Premier League but across all of Europe’s big five leagues (Spain, Italy, France, Germany and England).
They aren’t standing still though. City announced they had agreed a deal with Borussia Dortmund to sign Haaland on Tuesday. The Premier League champions will pay the striker’s £51.1m release clause and he will arrive at the Etihad on July 1, subject to terms being finalised.
The news has been met by excitement within the City fanbase with Norwegian flags spotted in the away end at Wolves – and after scoring his third goal of the night, De Bruyne himself performed the meditation celebration with his arms – something Haaland has made his own at Borussia Dortmund.
Adding a player of such finishing ability will only help City add further goals to their already bulky tally, according to Guardiola, who was speaking for the first time since City announced the deal.
“Definitely, he can help us score more. It is not about that. In the end it is about winning games.
He added: “I never thought that our defensive situation depends on the central defender and I never thought that the goals we score depend on the striker. He has scored a lot of goals in his career and we are going to try to help him through the game, having more chances to score goals.
“We are never going to give him the responsibility to score goals. We have to win games and if we are going to win games we need everyone doing it the best way, arriving as much as possible. After, of course, if we arrive there, with the quality that we believe he has, we can do it.
“I respond because I have to do it and I am a polite man but this is next season. Now we have to work a lot this season. It is not done. We still have a job to do. We saw yesterday how tough Aston Villa will be and, of course, West Ham. So, I still have a job to do.”
‘This was the De Bruyne show’
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate at Molineux writes:
This was the Kevin De Bruyne show. The expected-goals total for City’s seven shots in the first half at Molineux was just 0.52 – in other words, attempts from those positions would usually yield one goal every other game. De Bruyne scored three inside 24 minutes.
The first was measured into the corner, the second was a credit to his anticipation after some ingenuity to fashion the chance in the first place. The third showcased the power in those boots of his, the ball flashing into the net to draw gasps from the crowd.
Three different goals but all with his so-called weaker left foot. He added a fourth with his right. Nobody should be too surprised. De Bruyne continues to deliver. In a special City team, one soon to be bolstered by Haaland, he is the special player.
Wolves are back in action at Molineux on Sunday when they host already-relegated Norwich. They finish up their season with a trip to face Liverpool at Anfield.
Manchester City travel to West Ham on the same day, live on Sky Sports, with the chance to strengthen their grip on the title before completing their campaign against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on the final day.