Elusive Euro glory the acid test for Erling

Manchester City is still licking its wounds from another painful Champions League exit, but by winning the race to sign Erling Haaland it has established itself as a go-to destination for Europe’s top talent.,The 21-year-old scoring phenomenon had his choice of the continent’s top clubs thanks to a reported buyout clause of 60 million euros ($63 million) that will see him leave Borussia Dortmund well below his market value.,Real Madrid wanted to pair the Norwegian with Kylian Mbappe at the Bernabeu next season, Barcelona sought him as a successor to Lionel Messi, while Bayern Munich again aimed to swoop on its Bundesliga rival.,Haaland, however, will instead line up in City blue next season, just as his father Alf-Inge did between 2000 and 2003 during a very different era for the club.,The arrival of petrodollars from Abu Dhabi has long since transformed City’s fortunes, with Pep Guardiola’s men now on the brink of a fourth Premier League title in five seasons.,But Haaland is the man City needs to fill a void if it is to reach the next level-a superstar striker with impressive physicality to boot.,City has played the best part of two seasons without a recognized No 9.,An attempt to land Harry Kane as Sergio Aguero’s successor fell short last summer and it may have cost City another shot at Champions League glory.,Despite beating Real Madrid 4-2 in the first leg of their semifinal, Guardiola’s men missed a series of sitters to put the tie to bed.,That came back to haunt them last week as Real miraculously hauled itself off the floor to score twice in the final seconds of the second leg and set up a final against Liverpool, City’s nearest challenger for the Premier League trophy.,Haaland, however, has scored 23 goals in just 19 Champions League appearances for Salzburg and Dortmund.,What remains to be seen is how well he can be embedded into Guardiola’s system.,League titles won with Samuel Eto’o at Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski in his time at Bayern Munich and Aguero in his early years at City dispel the notion Guardiola’s style of play cannot accommodate a No 9.,But the recent story of City’s success under the Catalan coach has been one of collective brilliance.,Riyad Mahrez is the team’s top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions this season, ahead of Raheem Sterling (16), Kevin De Bruyne (15) and Phil Foden (14).,Not all superstar signings have gone as planned for Guardiola in the past.,Haaland’s arrival has sparked comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ill-fated season at Barcelona in 2009/10.,And Jack Grealish, despite costing City around $140 million to make him the most expensive player in English soccer history, has spent much of this season on the bench.,But by landing one of Europe’s hottest properties, City is also looking to a future beyond Guardiola, whose current contract runs out in 2023.,Now Guardiola and Haaland will have at least one season together to try to satisfy City’s desperate desire for a first Champions League title.,AFP