Pep Guardiola has refuted claims that Erling Haaland has a clause in his contract that will allow him to leave Manchester City and join Real Madrid in 2024.
It was reported earlier this week by Spanish outlet Marca that Haaland would be able to sign for the current European champions in two years time for a fee of €200m (£174m).
However, speaking after the striker netted twice in City’s 5-0 Champions League victory over Copenhagen, Guardiola insisted that is not the case.
“It is not true. He doesn’t have a release clause for Real Madrid or any other team,” said the City manager on Wednesday, while he added the rumours did not bother him or the team.
Guardiola also seemed to quell any suggestions Haaland picked up an injury in the victory over Copenhagen.
The former Borussia Dortmund man was replaced at the break, denying him the opportunity of bagging a fourth hat-trick for the club.
But speaking after the game, Guardiola said the decision was made with Saturday’s clash against Southampton in mind, a team who City failed to beat in either of their Premier League meetings last term.
“He’s played a lot of minutes. It’s 3-0, the game was under control,” explained the Catalan.
“Cole Palmer is an excellent player, a top-class player and looking forward to playing. If the game was tight, Erling would continue but it was better to rest and think about Southampton, a team we were not able to beat last season. Hopefully this season we can do it.”
Earlier that night, City wrapped up a third consecutive Champions League win this season after Haaland scored the first two of five for the Blues.
Then Sergio Gomez’s shot just before half-time pinballed into the back of the net with the last touch coming off Davit Khocholava, before Riyad Mahrez netted from the spot after the break and Julian Alvarez grabbed another late on.
The two-goal haul leaves Haaland on 19 from 12 matches since joining City this summer, while he’s now moved above Luis Suarez and Rivaldo in the all-time goalscorers list in the competition.