HomePremier LeagueSouthampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu makes Erling Haaland admission after...

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu makes Erling Haaland admission after facing Manchester City ace

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu makes Erling Haaland admission after facing Manchester City ace

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu reflected on his “special” visit to former club Manchester City last weekend, as well as the challenge of facing in-form striker Erling Haaland.

The 20-year-old keeper left City in the summer to join Southampton on a five-year contract for around £12 million, and will start the new season as the club’s number one between the sticks ahead of Alex McCarthy and Willy Caballero.

He’s since made nine consecutive Premier League appearances, and while he has yet to keep a clean sheet for his new club, Bazunu appears to have settled in quickly and is already a well-respected member of the squad.

A return to City to play at the Etihad may not have come at the best time for Bazunu or Southampton, who were coming off three straight defeats; indeed, they lost the game 4-0, but the young keeper said he enjoyed reconnecting with friends and former colleagues.

“It was a really special moment for me to be able to go back to the club that gave me my opportunity over here in England,” he told HampshireLive on Thursday. “It was really nice to see some familiar faces and speak to people I have worked with. It was a disappointing result but definitely a special moment for me.”

Bazunu joined City in January 2019, six months after the club agreed to sign him from his boyhood club Shamrock Rovers.

Initially a regular in City’s academy sides, the young keeper was loaned out to League One clubs Rochdale and Portsmouth, with the latter of which he rose to prominence at neighbouring Southampton.

Despite spending a lot of time away from the club during his time there, Bazunu did spend some months training with the first team under Guardiola, where he got to see some of the best players in the world up close and personal.

As a result, he was well aware of the quality to expect from City last weekend, but being prepared for it and stopping it are two entirely different things, as Saints discovered the hard way.

“I don’t think it took me by surprise [facing City’s quality], because of the fact that I’ve been around that environment and trained with them for a few months before,” added Bazunu.

“So you see the level they’re at and you see them every week on the TV and you can see this season how strong they’ve been both in the league and the Champions League, so you’re not surprised by the level of quality that they have. But you know, sometimes you’ve just got to put your hand up and learn from it because they are where they are for a reason.”

Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez, and Erling Haaland all scored in the win, with the home crowd saving their loudest applause for when the latter completed the scoring midway through the second half, having already been denied by the woodwork and Bazunu’s outstretched glove.

Haaland’s goalscoring exploits at City (20 in 13 appearances, if you need reminding) have earned him god-like status in English terraces, none more so than at the Etihad, where he had scored three hat-tricks in three consecutive Premier League games before facing the Saints.

The fact that they were able to limit him to just one goal on home soil is likely to be a feat that few clubs will be able to match by the end of the season. Despite the hype surrounding the Norwegian, Bazunu was unfazed by the prospect of facing the league’s top goalscorer last weekend.

“Not mentally,” he added. “It’s very obvious how much people are talking about him and his goals speak for themselves. But to be playing against that level of opposition it’s not just him, it’s all 11 players on the pitch that have an unbelievable amount of quality. So it just almost allows you to focus even more.”

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu makes Erling Haaland admission after facing Manchester City ace

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