Pep Guardiola has jokingly agreed with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent comments about his management of Erling Haaland and sarcastically claimed he ‘doesn’t like it’ when the Manchester City forward scores a hat-trick.
Ibrahimovic, who Guardiola famously fell out with during time at Barcelona, claimed this week on Canal Plus that Guardiola’s ‘ego’ could stand in the way of Haaland’s development.
"I like him [Haaland] a lot, he is a very intelligent player, he doesn’t do things that are not within his reach,” the former Manchester United forward opined. “He does not go down to play the ball, he waits in front of the goal and scores.
“Is Guardiola able to improve him? That depends on the ego that Guardiola has,” he added. If he allows himself to be bigger than Haaland or not. He didn’t allow me or the others to be as big."
Guardiola was asked about those remarks and gave a tongue-in-cheek response claiming he is furious with Haaland for scoring as it takes the spotlight away from him. “He [Ibrahimovic] is right, he is completely right,” the City boss responded satirically.
“In this club, in this team, my ego is beyond every other person, every player. I don’t like it when Erling scores three goals, and all the highlight is for him. I am so jealous. Honestly, so jealous.
“I said ‘Erling, please no more goals, otherwise the Sun and Daily Mail won’t talk about me, and just about me’. He is right, he knows me perfectly. He can write another book. No, I am right in what I am saying. My ego is [through the roof].”
Ibrahimovic and Guardiola have a long-standing feud from their one season at the Nou Camp. In his book, Ibrahimovic memorably compared himself to a Ferrari that needed to be driven on the motorway. “Guardiola filled up with diesel and went for a spin in the countryside. If that’s what he wanted, he should have bought himself a Fiat from the start,” he wrote.
As for Haaland, he could be in line for a return to the team when City host Fulham on Saturday. The former Borussia Dortmund man has missed the last two due to a foot injury but returned to training this week and Guardiola said he’ll make a call on his selection ahead of the clash with Fulham.