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Erling Haaland is already having an unseen impact on Man City attackers

“In every interview I have to answer two or three questions about him,” said Manuel Akanji this week when Erling Haaland was inevitably mentioned in an interview.

Pep Guardiola has already learned to embrace the inevitable questions about Haaland in his Manchester City press conferences, joking with the Norwegian journalists who are now regulars around the Etihad, and telling reporters last week to ask about John Stones before the avalanche of Haaland questions began after the win over Borussia Dortmund.

As well as the goals Haaland is scoring, his impact on the club as a whole in such a short space of time is remarkable — something only the biggest world stars can do. However, that attention is also having another hidden benefit to the City squad, with players beginning to open up more about the new era at the Etihad since Haaland arrived.

Jack Grealish, speaking on international duty and facing the same Haaland question as Akanji did, had a similar assessment to his new teammate.

Everywhere I go now — whether it be family, friends, people in the street — they always say ‘what’s he like?’ And I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Grealish said, before explaining how he arrived at the England camp to coaches taking the mick over his goal at Wolves.

At Molineux, Grealish darted into the box just 55 seconds into the game and converted a Kevin De Bruyne cross from close range that had just evaded Haaland.

“Could you get anything off him? I actually think I could,” Grealish continued, “His mindset for scoring goals is unbelievable. If I could get that… I came here and I spoke to (England coach) Steve Holland and he said ‘was that actually you at the back stick scoring?’

“[He said it] because that’s something that I’ve not been known for but it is something that I want to do more often. If I could take anything [from Haaland], it would be that.”

It feels strange to argue City’s attackers didn’t have that ‘mindset’ for goalscoring that Grealish mentioned, although it’s also fair to say Haaland takes that to a new level completely. If his teammates can pick up on some of Haaland’s movements and runs then more goals will follow for everyone.

In fact, the third goal against Wolves saw Phil Foden make a similar run to the near post after Haaland dropped outside of the area to link up with De Bruyne. Foden ensured there was still a Blue shirt ready to convert a chance even when Haaland wasn’t in his usual lurking position.

So Guardiola and his players might be happy to face questions about Haaland if the goals keep coming from the number nine. And on the few occasions the Norwegian isn’t scoring, there are early signs that the rest of the squad are learning from him to deputise in the penalty area.

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