Julián Álvarez savours ‘privilege’ of playing with Haaland and Messi

Julián Álvarez says it is a privilege learning from two of the world’s best forwards in Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland, his Argentina and Manchester City teammates respectively.

The 22-year-old, who arrived from River Plate in the summer, has made only two Premier League starts for City, Haaland having scored 17 times in the competition. He is, though, expected to line up alongside Messi for his nation at the Qatar World Cup this month.

Álvarez is in line to start City’s final Champions League group game, at home to Sevilla on Wednesday, with Haaland still out with a foot injury. City have qualified for the last 16 as group winners and Pep Guardiola said Haaland was “still not 100%” and that he would use squad members who do not play regularly.

Of competing with Haaland, Álvarez said: “It’s a privilege playing with him and it is always great to play alongside the best in the world. I think we can learn from each other both ways. I like how he always wants to bring the best to the team.”

Of Messi he said: “You always learn just by watching him [though] it’s difficult to copy what he does. We all know what he’s done over the years, best player in the world obviously. I’m lucky to be able to share a pitch with him and now I have a chance to play alongside him.”

Álvarez also played with Sergio Agüero, City’s record goalscorer, for Argentina before the latter’s retirement, and drew on his advice. “When I knew I might be coming here I had a chat with him,” he said. “I had regular contact over a six-month period with Agüero and other [Argentina] players: what is the place like, what is the city like, what is the club like? It’s always good to have information when you go somewhere for the first time.

“We all know what Kun [Agüero] did here. He had a fantastic time and did some amazing performances, lots of goals, great goals but all the Argentines here have performed well. From the moment I arrived I wanted to have him as a reference; everyone remembers him with great affection.”

Guardiola stated he would not attend the World Cup. “The best way to enjoy the matches is at home with red wine,” said City’s manager. “We will have one or two weeks off and then we will maybe go to Abu Dhabi [for training], organise a friendly game.”