The trick that made Erling Haaland the ultimate finisher in more ways than one
A few months after Manchester Citys last Champions League final, when it became clear there would be no deal for Harry Kane - and, crucially, that no other Premier League club was in for him - one senior executive closed a meeting and the matter with two words.
The club decided there and then they were going all in on the Norwegian. Now, mere hours before their next Champions League final, so much comes down to Haaland. He is certainly the player that Simone Inzaghi has been most obsessed with figuring out how to stop.
The 22-year-old is the finisher, in so many more ways than with the instinct and technique that has brought 52 goals in his debut City season. That ensures he also represents the final piece in a brilliant team, that now stands on the brink of an achievement that would represent total domination and the culmination of this entire Abu Dhabi project.
The scale of City's last three months - where the team have simply brutalised their closest rivals as well as any sense of sporting competition - would have been impossible to imagine for most of football history. It is ironic that this has coincided with Haalands lowest goal return, because the key has been how the Norwegian fired Guardiolas own imagination. Or, more relevantly given the last Champions League final, Haaland has clarified his managers thinking.