Pep Guardiola has knocked back suggestions Erling Haaland has a release clause in his Manchester City contract that would allow him to join Real Madrid for a fixed fee, before admitting he does not know whether an abdominal injury sustained by the defender Kyle Walker could be severe enough to rule him out of the World Cup next month.
Reports from Spain in the run-up to City’s 5-0 Champions League victory against Copenhagen on Wednesday – in which Haaland scored twice to take his incredible tally this season to 19 in just 12 matches – suggested Madrid could sign Haaland for €200m in 2024, or €175m in 2025, as per the terms of the contract he signed with City this year.
But, speaking after the win which moved City to the cusp of the knockout stages with three games still to play, Guardiola denied that was the case. “It’s not true,” he said. “He has no release clause for Real Madrid or any other team. It’s not true, what can I say? I have the feeling he is incredibly happy here and we will try to make him happy.
“You cannot worry about the rumours, we have to worry about what we can control.”
Haaland was substituted at half‑time to preserve him for a hectic fixture period in the buildup to the World Cup, which starts in six weeks. But it appears Walker’s availability for England is in doubt after Guardiola said he was unsure whether the injury which forced the defender from the field during the first half of the Manchester derby on Sunday could result in him missing the tournament.
“I don’t know,” Guardiola said when asked about the extent of Walker’s injury. “It’s something abdominal, it may be a while. I know how important the World Cup is for the players but he has an abdominal injury. It will be weeks.”
The news would be a major setback for Gareth Southgate, with Walker almost certain to start for England in Qatar if fit and available. England begin their World Cup campaign with a group‑stage clash against Iran on 21 November, before subsequent games against USA and Wales. Walker’s absence would leave Southgate with a significant hole in his defence to fill.