Guardiola and Raiola’s bitter row explained as Man City pull out of Haaland race

Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City do not have the money to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund this summer – but his long-running feud with Mino Raiola meant it may have been a tall order regardless.

Reports suggested City were amongst the frontrunners in the race for Haaland, who has scored 33 goals in 31 games for Dortmund so far this season.

However, when asked about a potential move for the 20-year-old striker, Guardiola told reporters on Friday: “With the prices we are not going to buy any strikers, it is impossible, we can not afford it.

“All the clubs are struggling financially, us as well.“

It is believed Dortmund are demanding around £150million for Haaland, meaning City’s inability to meet that valuation amid the coronavirus pandemic is understandable.

Yet given Guardiola does not see eye-to-eye with the Norwegian star’s agent, City would have been at a disadvantage in the race for his signature anyhow.

Guardiola’s bitter row with Raiola began when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the outspoken agent’s many clients, fell out of favour during his one and only season at Barcelona in 2009/10.

After sealing a £63million move from Inter Milan, Ibrahimovic got off to a flyer at the Nou Camp and scored 11 goals in 13 games.

Yet, slowly but surely Guardiola lost faith in the Swede, who was eventually sent out on loan to AC Milan the following summer.

The Spaniard’s treatment of Ibrahimovic infuriated Raiola, who said: “If Guardiola doesn’t play Ibra after paying €75m for him, it’s best if you send him to a psychiatric hospital.”

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  • And when Barca came out on top in the 2011 Champions League final, the Dutch-Italian, who felt Ibrahimovic should have been involved that season, claims to have tried attacking Guardiola in the Wembley corridor.

    “I went for him that night in the corridors at Wembley,” he later admitted.

    “Only Adriano Galliani stopped me. Lucky for Guardiola!

    “Guardiola told Zlatan to go to him if he ever had any problems or complaints.

    “But then he just ignored him and wasn't playing him. He didn't even say hello to Zlatan.”

    Raiola then launched an astonishing verbal attack on Guardiola during a 2015 interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, saying: “Pep Guardiola, the coach, is fantastic. As a person he's an absolute zero. He's a coward, a dog.

    “He’s a classic priest. 'Do as I tell you – don't do what I do…'

    “If Manchester City win the Champions League this season it will emphasise what a good coach he is – but I'll hate it.”

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    Guardiola, however, was left baffled by Raiola’s comments, firing back at his tormentor by dropping a major transfer bombshell as City manager in 2018.

    “The people discover my secrets, I am a bad guy,” Guardiola said. “I’m a coward. I don’t understand why I am such a bad guy.

    “I never speak with him, so I don’t know maybe Ibra explained many things about me. But, two months ago he offered me [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan and [Paul] Pogba to play with us. Why?

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    “Why did he offer? He was interested in Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us?

    “I’m surprised because I am a dog… I am not a good guy. I am not a good guy. He deserves his players to play with better guys.

    “But, he knows as well I am a top manager. Thank you."

    READ MORE:Erling Haaland to Man City transfer at risk because of Pep Guardiola's bitter off-pitch row

    READ MORE:Premier League clubs’ hopes rated as Erling Haaland’s dad and agent ‘fly to London today’

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