Former Manchester City forward Paulo Wanchope believes the Blues can finally realise their Champions League dream with Erling Haaland in such sensational goal-scoring form.

"It’s important for Guardiola and the players because they have been searching for this in the last six years. Now they have Haaland who was bought to make it happen.

"I remember seeing in an interview, Haaland said he has come to win the Champions League, not the Premier League. The Premier League is always tough of course but the real challenge is the Champions League and they have a real chance now.

"Before Haaland they had a great team but they were missing a piece and they have that now. That makes them difficult to beat."

A firm fan favourite at City, West Ham and Derby for his improvised moments of magic, Wanchope may not have been particularly prolific during his time, but strikers know strikers.

It should worry the rest of the Premier League therefore that the Costa Rican thinks even greater things are to come from the blonde-haired phenomenon who has been smashing records for fun this season. 

"I think Haaland will get even better. The way that City play, and the style that they have, will give him more options to improve his game. He is very direct but he will learn how to link up with the players he has around him."

Until he goes up a level, 42 goals in 37 appearances to date will just have to suffice, a quite remarkable tally that is hard to make sense of.

What does Wanchope believe sets Haaland apart? What, in short, is his secret? 

"He is very aggressive and I like that. Plus being around such good players puts him in good positions to score.

"Physically he is very strong and his mind is very quick. He always wants to go forward and has a hunger to score one, two, three, four, five goals.

"I can also see that he is a good professional. He takes care of himself and that’s very important. In terms of goals scored he will be up there with Ronaldo and Messi. Just as long as he avoids injuries."

If the 22-year-old is breaking new ground in goal-scoring, he also happens to play under a managerial genius who has done likewise in his field.

Now a coach himself back in Central America, to what extent does Wanchope believe Pep Guardiola has shaped the Premier League via his possession-based football?

"He has influenced it a lot. Good managers like Guardiola, Klopp, and even Conte, they bring something different in every league.

"Guardiola has a lot to do with how the league has changed because technically it is much better now. He will be remembered as one of the greatest."

He will be remembered too as a manager who brought league titles by the bucketful to East Manchester but presently there is the small matter of a team from North London who are flying, eight points clear and showing no signs of slowing down.

Have City met their match this season?

"They are capable of catching Arsenal but the games between now and the end of the season will be really tough for both because there are so many teams scared of going down.

"City have experience doing this. Arsenal are doing great but they don’t have that experience. I think it will be a nice title race."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, one of those scared teams attempting to escape the clutches of relegation is a club Wanchope signed for in 1999, wasting no time in endearing himself to the Hammers fan-base with a series of typically enigmatic displays. 

Does he believe his former employer can start to pick up precious points, at a juncture of the season when they really, really need to?  

"They are capable of becoming strong in this difficult time. Moyes has done a great job in the past couple of years and West Ham will manage to stay up because of the size of the club and the players they have.

"They have a great stadium and a great set-up and it would be hard on the fans if they drop but they have everything needed to fight and stay up. Then they can learn some lessons."



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