Erling Haaland is using the frustration of being forced to watch the World Cup on TV as motivation to score even more goals in the Premier League this season.
It is the fastest anyone has reached the total, seven games earlier than the next quickest – Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips in 1999-2000 – and would have been enough to secure a share of the Golden Boot in five Premier League campaigns.
Worryingly for City’s top flight rivals, manager Pep Guardiola says Haaland is currently “not at his best”.
“I’ve been at home, being a bit mad that I’m not playing at the World Cup,” Haaland told Amazon Prime.
“To watch other people score to win games at the World Cup kind of triggers me, kind of motivates me and irritates me. I’m more hungry and I’m more ready than ever.”
Haaland was a boyhood Leeds fan thanks to his dad, Alfie, who played for both Leeds and Manchester City, and watched his son’s latest scoring masterclass from the Elland Road stands.
“I’m happy – it’s a really special moment in my career,” said the Norway striker, who playing in the city of his birth against the side he supports.
“In my craziest fantasy, I couldn’t think of being at Elland Road and scoring for Manchester City against Leeds.”
‘The more minutes he can play, the better he will be’
Guardiola is delighted with the goals tally of his £51.2m summer signing from Borussia Dortmund.
However, Haaland admitted he could have had five, with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier making a trio of superb saves to deny the Norwegian.
And Guardiola revealed it has taken Haaland time to recover from the foot injury he sustained against Dortmund in the Champions League in October.
“He is still not at his best, as he was at the beginning of the season,” said the City boss. “But the injury he had at Dortmund affected him for a long period.”
Guardiola said Haaland trained only once during City’s warm weather camp in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, although he accepts his observations are relative given the forward has now scored three times in two games since the post-Qatar resumption.
“To move his huge body is not easy for him but the more minutes he can play, the better he will be,” the manager said.
“I had the feeling in the first half of the season, [the chance we had] in the first minute against Liverpool [in the Carabao Cup], and today the second minute against Leeds, it’s a goal.
“It is these details that are a little [less] sharp. But every cross, every action he is there. He has incredible sense; I didn’t teach him one concept about being in the box. He moves really well and knows exactly where the ball is going to land.”