Bernardo Silva compares his City team-mate Haaland’s instinct to that of Cristiano Ronaldo
With Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating a remarkable 700th career club goal with the Manchester United winner at Everton last weekend, it seems hard to imagine a modern-day striker coming close to the Portuguese icon’s exploits. .
But in neighbors Manchester City there is someone who may have the age and ability to challenge the game’s current top scorers such as Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Having netted 20 times in his first 13 games – carrying a career tally of 155 goals – Erling Haaland has been exceptional since his £51.2m summer move from Borussia Dortmund.
It comes as no surprise to his City team-mate Bernardo Silva, who also believes the 22-year-old Norwegian striker has the potential to have the same impact as 37-year-old Ronaldo.
“You never know what will happen, Erling is still very young, he still has a lot to do, but the mentality is there, so yes,” said Bernardo, who plays alongside Ronaldo for the national team. Portugal.
“I play with Erling (for City) so I hope so. But the standards are so high – Cristiano has won five Ballon d’Ors, six Champions Leagues – but I’m very impressed with Erling.
“Honestly, I was talking with some friends the other day and said he’s the only player who comes close to Cristiano in terms of where the ball will land in the box.
“He’s got that smell of knowing where he lands and he’s so quick and strong which isn’t easy for defenders.”
Haaland will look to score for a fifth consecutive Premier League away game when City visit Liverpool on Sunday.
With hat-tricks against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and in the 6-3 Manchester derby win over United, he already has 15 league goals in nine appearances.
“We knew what was coming, the type of player he was, the ambition he had,” added Bernardo, 28, who also played with French striker Kylian Mbappe at Monaco.
“You look at his face during games and he just wants to go out there and win the games for us – and then he’s a really nice guy too.
“You never know what you get with new players, so having a player like him with his quality, and such a nice guy too, is great for the team.
Bernardo says he was ‘amazed’ by Haaland’s humility and the way he accepts he is just another player in the team.
“If you see him running in games, he presses like a beast, like all of us – that’s great.
“The humility to know that it doesn’t matter how good you are or how much better you are, but the more you have to lead by example, the more you have to run for the team – and he does that.”
Despite winning back-to-back league titles, Haaland seems to have taken Pep Guardiola’s side to another level.
“We’ve always had good results over the past few years, but it’s true that now we have such a strong, tall player and other teams are a bit scared of him,” Bernardo told Arab News exclusively.
“But our way of playing is the same and we are happy with recent results,” said Bernardo. “Personally, I think if me and the other midfielders and defenders do our job properly, we have so much quality up front.
“With players like Kevin (De Bruyne), Phil (Foden) and with Erling they can decide the games, they can take care of the rest.
“But we have to do a good job, controlling the pace of the game and then we know the weapons we have up front.”
Undefeated this season, City are a point behind league leaders Arsenal but 13 ahead of Liverpool.
But having been City’s main title challengers for the past five seasons, Bernardo says it would be madness to rule out the Reds, who showed a return to form by beating Rangers 7-1 in their draw in the Champions League in the middle of the week.
“When the season started we were struggling a bit, we were still winning games, but I felt like it wasn’t perfect,” he added. “Now that’s how the team is doing well.
“Confidence levels are good, we are scoring and not conceding and stable in the game. This is just the start and we have to keep playing like this.
“It will still be difficult and we have tough opponents like Liverpool. . . we know how hard it is against them.
“They have been our biggest rivals for the past five years and it’s always a challenge to play against them. Liverpool is a very important game for us.
“It doesn’t make any difference how they started, what their form is, honestly. What they’ve been doing for the last five years, you can’t look at them and think, ‘oh they’re a bit weak right now .’ No, no chance. They are so strong and it’s going to be so difficult for us.
Liverpool signed Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez in the summer but record £85million purchase from Bernardo’s former club Benfica scored four times and was sent off on his home debut against Crystal Palace .
“He joined my old team Benfica, so I know him very well because I watched all the Portuguese games,” Bernardo added. “He’s a quick player, he has that quality of knowing where the ball is going to land and scoring goals.”
“Sometimes it’s not easy when you change country, culture. He still has to learn a new language and adapt to a new style of play.
“I think he will adapt and get to where he wants to be. I hope not because I’m on the other side of the competition, but I see a lot of quality in Darwin.
City have notoriously struggled at Anfield, with a 4-1 league win in 2021, only their third in 65 years, and Bernardo said: “We know how difficult it is to play at Anfield, with their home crowd, but we will try. ”
“We feel good at the moment and we’re going there to win as usual. We’ve always tried to win there in the past, but we just couldn’t. We only won there. only one season, for many reasons and under different circumstances, but the team feels good.
“Our level of confidence is very high and we will prepare very well.”
While City are yet to win the Champions League, Bernardo has won nine trophies, including four Premier League titles, since arriving from Monaco in 2017.
And he insisted their mindset hadn’t changed. “We want to win as many titles as possible this season,” added the midfielder, who decided to stay at City this summer despite his link with Barcelona.
“We are going to try to win them all, aim for each of them like we do every season. So this season is no exception, we don’t change.
“The Premier League is the most important and the Champions League is something we’ve been looking for for a very long time – and we haven’t done it yet.
“And then there are the other cup competitions that matter – the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup – and we have the World Cup in the middle of the season, so a lot to think about.
“We just have to keep going. It’s still October and a long way to go and competitions to play, lots of games. It won’t be an easy season, but we’re doing well right now.