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Erling Haaland told to adapt his style of play as Manchester City eye move for Kalvin Phillips

Erling Haaland: Manchester City unveiling

Erling Haaland: Manchester City unveiling

James DuckerTelegraph Media Group Limited

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano believes Erling Haaland will have to modify his style of play at the Etihad as the Norway striker arrived in England yesterday to formally complete his £51million (€60m) move and Kalvin Phillips emerged as the club’s leading midfield target.

Haaland touched down in Manchester yesterday from Barcelona, where he had undergone another medical examination with Dr Ramon Cugat so City could run checks on the groin injury and hip flexor problems that forced him to miss eight of Borussia Dortmund’s final 20 games of the season.

The 21-year-old was due to have dinner with City executives in Manchester last night before being shown around the club’s training ground today, when he will pose for the relevant pictures ahead of a formal announcement.

Haaland could be joined at City this summer by the Leeds and England midfielder Phillips, who is understood to be the club’s leading target to replace departing captain Fernandinho, as Pep Guardiola bids to bolster his squad fresh from winning a fourth Premier League title in five seasons.

Any negotiations to sign Phillips are likely to be less straightforward now Leeds managed to preserve their Premier League status.

It also means the Yorkshire club will be able to command a higher fee for Phillips but City are considering a bid for the 26-year-old and believe his age and his energy and intensity fit the mould of what they need.

Phillips has also been of interest to Manchester United but it is understood the Leeds-born midfielder – aware of the enmity between the two clubs – has not been enamoured by the idea of a move to Old Trafford out of loyalty to Leeds fans. City are also eyeing a left-back and are interested in Brighton’s Marc Cucurella.

Fernandinho (37) said his goodbyes to City supporters during the club’s title parade party on Monday night and is heading back to Brazil after nine illustrious years in Manchester, during which time he won five Premier League titles.

But as one player departs another arrives, with Haaland set to fill the void left by Sergio Aguero’s departure 12 months ago.

Soriano has high hopes for Haaland – who scored 85 goals in 88 games for Dortmund – but believes the striker will need time to adjust to Guardiola’s system and style of play and the Premier League.

“We are sure Haaland will work at City,” the City chief executive told Catalan radio station RAC1. “There will be some time to adapt and patience is needed, but the physical, technical, talent and mentality he has, we are sure he will succeed. He will have to change the way he plays a bit to adapt to our style and system.”

City met the €60m release clause in Haaland’s contract and the player will join Kevin De Bruyne as the club’s highest paid player on around £400,000 (€470,000) a week. But Soriano believes the deal represents excellent value for money and is another indication of how far City have come in a short space of time.

“We are evolving to a time when the big players can choose, and Haaland has chosen us,” he said. “You have seen the transfer figures, and they are very reasonable. The salary we are paying him is what we can afford and what he is entitled to. Our focus is on football, on playing well and winning, rather than on star players. And we lacked a centre-forward.”

Soriano says critics of City’s spending under their Abu Dhabi owners overlook that Manchester United have lavished more money on new signings in the past three years: “We are not a state club – just look at the money United have spent.”

Whereas City have spent around €420m in the past three years, during which time they have won two league titles, two League Cups and reached the Champions League final, United have spent over €470m on new players but have just finished a fifth successive season without a trophy and ended the campaign 35 points adrift of the champions.


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