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R7043 Jürgen Fromme Erling Haaland pictured this month.
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'I cannot answer this question' - Guardiola plays down Haaland transfer talk
The Manchester City boss hailed the Borussia Dortmund star as one of the best young strikers in the game.

PEP GUARDIOLA HAS hailed Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland as one of the best young strikers in the game.

But the Manchester City manager refuses to be drawn on reports linking the Premier League leaders with a summer move for the prolific Norwegian, who has scored 37 goals for club and country this season.

Quadruple-chasing City are set to come up against the 20-year-old twice next month after being drawn against Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Guardiola. “Of course he is one of the best strikers in the world right now at his age.

“I saw only a few games – honestly, I didn’t have much time – but I saw the highlights and the numbers in the Champions League and the league are impressive.

“I know the quality of this player and I think everyone knows, but in two weeks I could answer better because I didn’t see much.”

With uncertainty over the future of record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, City are expected to look for a new centre-forward in the summer.

Aguero is in the final year of his contract and, even if he renews, at the age of 32, it is unlikely to be a long-term deal.

Regarded as one of the hottest properties in the game, Haaland has been tipped for a move to the Premier League for some time. With their prominence, financial muscle and the fact Haaland’s father Alf-Inge also played for the club 20 years ago, City have been an obvious link.

But, speaking at a press conference, Guardiola was unwilling to fuel the speculation.

“He’s a player from Borussia Dortmund,” he said when asked about the speculation. “I don’t like it when people talk about our players, so you understand I cannot answer this question.”

Guardiola’s immediate priority is Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Everton and will start his preparations for Dortmund during the upcoming international break.

“Dortmund are tough but all of them would have been at this stage,” he said. “We have to discover how they are as a team, and especially try to do a good first game and after a good second one.

“I didn’t see much of them this season, because we don’t have time in England to watch other competitions, but now we have two weeks to analyse and see some games, what they do and how they are with their manager.”

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Guardiola expects a difficult encounter at Everton this weekend as the Premier League leaders turn their attention to another of the competitions they have a chance of winning this season.

He said: “Quarter-finals, Everton, Goodison Park – it is always tough. A few weeks ago we were there and we know how difficult it was to beat them.

“It is a final. A few weeks ago it was not a final, this is – away.

“The quality of the players is there, no doubt about that. They are doing well in the Premier League this season, fighting for qualification for the Champions League.

“It is the last game before the international break. Hopefully we can finish well and when we restart, the important part of the season starts.”

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey preview Ireland’s game against England and try to figure out where this team is going under Andy Farrell, if anywhere:

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