Manchester City dispatch member of their medical team to monitor the daily routine of Erling Haaland while he is with Norway as Pep Guardiola looks to maintain the fitness of his key centre forward after stunning start to season
- Erling Haaland has 11 goals in his first seven Premier League games for Man City
- Norwegian has started the season in imperious form already quelling doubts
- Manchester City will look to guard his fitness while he is away with national side
Manchester City have dispatched a member of their medical team away with Norway to help manage Erling Haaland’s fitness over the international break.
Mario Pafundi, a sports therapist, was appointed during Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge at City and has struck up a bond with Haaland since the 22-year-old’s summer arrival.
Norway coach Stale Solbakken on Monday confirmed that Pafundi was linking up with the squad ahead of Nations League ties against Slovenia and Serbia, adding that he came recommended by the striker.
Manchester City have dispatched a member of their medical staff to monitor Erling Haaland
Sportsmail understands Pafundi’s role is to maintain the daily routine Haaland has undergone while at the Etihad Stadium. The Premier League champions have done similar with Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero in the past.
Haaland suffered with various injuries last season and City have been carefully monitoring his physical progress, believing Pafundi’s presence with Norway should enable him to preserve his fitness.
Guardiola has started Haaland in all nine competitive matches so far this season, with the £51million signing plundering 14 goals – including the second during Saturday’s win over Wolves.
The club are keen to ensure their forward maintains his fitness beyond the international break
It is unknown whether Pafundi will continue with Norway beyond this international window, while Solbakken insisted that he would also be treating other players.
‘As we select 26-27 players each time, it is a lot for two therapists,’ Solbakken said. ‘Erling came up with the brilliant suggestion that he has a very good therapist.
‘Now I have talked to him a lot in the last week. That is why we have taken in a third therapist, at least on a temporary basis.
‘It is of course no coincidence that he comes from Manchester City and that Erling is part of it, but he works with the other players as well. He is not just Erling’s man here.’
Norway coach Stale Solbakken insisted that Mario Pafundi would also be treating other players
Solbakken added: ‘I almost got a bit worried in the Wolverhampton game when he was running around at 3-0 yelling that he doesn’t get the ball. I shouted, “calm down, Erling” in front of the TV.’
Haaland will be given the captain’s armband in Slovenia on Saturday if Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard does not prove his fitness.
The former Dortmund man has been in Solbakken’s leadership group for some time and the Norway boss told Sportsmail over the summer that he is ready to take on more responsibility.
Haaland has been in imperious form for Manchester City, notching 11 goals in seven games
‘It’s a good player-coach relationship and he is one of my vice captains, so sometimes we need to keep in touch a little bit more,’ Solbakken said.
‘Gradually he has grown into that role. When we started it was a little bit difficult because of the pandemic and we couldn’t meet.
‘I was appointed in the middle of all that so it was difficult in the beginning for him to know how to express himself in that role. He is a team player, you can see that on his face.’