Manchester City: Pep Guardiola compares free-scoring Erling Haaland to Lionel Messi

Close-up shot of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United in the Premier League on 2 October, 2022 at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Manchester City (opens in new tab) boss Pep Guardiola has compared Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi, discussing a key difference between arguably the two finest forwards he's ever coached.

As City beat Manchester United (opens in new tab) 6-3 in Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium, Haaland became the first player to score a hat-trick in three successive home Premier League games (Phil Foden also got a hat-trick on an historic afternoon for City (opens in new tab)).

And the prolific Norwegian's record-breaking start to his City career has – inevitably – prompted comparisons with Messi – who enjoyed four goal-laden years under Guardiola at Barcelona (opens in new tab)

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring a goal in Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United in the Premier League on 2 October, 2022 at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom

Haaland has scored 14 Premier League goals so far this season – twice as many as next best-placed Harry Kane (Image credit: Matt McNulty – Manchester City via Getty Images)

When asked after Sunday's victory whether he saw some of Messi's goalscoring inevitability in Haaland, Guardiola said (opens in new tab):

"The difference is that Erling needs maybe all his [teammates] to [help him] ... Messi had the ability to do it for himself."

Messi racked up 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barca – including an astonishing 73 in 2011/12, Guardiola's last season in charge at the Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola embrace during their time together at Barcelona

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

Haaland is already only three goals away from 20 for City, netting 17 times in just 11 appearances. Incredibly, the 22-year-old is on course to finish the campaign with over 60 league goals (opens in new tab)

To put into context how utterly crazy that is, the single-season Premier League goals record currently stands at 34: Andy Cole in 1993/94 and Alan Shearer in 1994/95 (those were both 42-game campaigns). Only three players have scored 30 or more in a single season this decade: Luis Suarez in 2013/14, and Mo Salah and Harry Kane in 2017/18.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...