The Hard Tackle looks at three strikers Manchester City could target, with Pep Guardiola keen on adding a new centre-forward to his squad.
Pep Guardiola will unquestionably go down in history as one of the best managers to have ever graced the game. The Catalan manager’s tactical genius is unmatched. Sometimes it can border on the eccentric, but there is no denying that Guardiola gets it right more often than not, thereby making his teams some of the most brilliant units of all time.
Guardiola oversaw the ‘tiki-taka’ revolution during his Barcelona stint and has continued to add facets to his tactical game. At Manchester City, Guardiola has drilled his style in the first-team setup at the Etihad over the last half a decade.
But his ability to make the Cityzens one of the most prolific teams in Europe and possibly guide them to winning the Premier League title this term without deploying a natural centre-forward could be one of his greatest achievements. However, that will only be a short-term fix, with Guardiola recently confirming that Manchester City will delve into the market for a striker this coming summer.
It is worth noting that excelling without a striker is not a situation of choice, as Manchester City relentlessly tried to sign Harry Kane last summer but to no avail. And with Gabriel Jesus heavily linked with Inter Milan over a possible summer move, Guardiola’s determination to add a new striker to his squad could swell.
The upcoming summer transfer window could be a busy market for strikers, with several clubs keen on adding one to their respective squads. Nonetheless, The Hard Tackle now looks at three players Manchester City could pursue ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The first option is the most obvious pick here, especially in light of all the comments made on his future by his agent and other stakeholders. We are, of course, talking about Erling Haaland, one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe at the moment.
The Norwegian striker has gone from strength to strength since joining Borussia Dortmund two years ago. In this period, Haaland has not only established himself as one of the best players in the Bundesliga but also among the premium strikers across Europe.
Suffice to say, some of the biggest clubs in Europe are hot on his trail, with La Liga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid reportedly even submitting their offers for him. And Manchester City will be one of a select few clubs that will likely be in the hunt for Haaland in the summer transfer window.
Indeed, according to Jan Aage Fjortoft, a Norwegian footballer turned journalist who has close ties with the Haaland family, Real Madrid and Manchester City are the front-runners in the race to sign Haaland in the summer transfer window.
While Barcelona could also be closely following, Manchester City should pip the Catalan giants due to their financial might. And even though the Premier League champions do not usually pay over the top, which could be the case for Haaland, their outlay on Jack Grealish last summer suggests they will not hesitate in shelling out the big bucks to land the Norwegian striker.
While a big outlay on Haaland could be justified, the intense competition with Real Madrid (and even Barcelona, for that matter) could leave Manchester City chasing an alternative. One of the options who should be on their wishlist is Darwin Nunez.
The Uruguayan striker has come into his own this season after experiencing teething problems last term and has been one of the shining lights of Benfica’s campaign thus far. Nunez has particularly been in delightful touch in the UEFA Champions League, scoring some crucial goals to book the Eagles’ place in the knockout stages at Barcelona’s expense.
The 22-year-old’s stunning progress has captured the attention of several high profile European clubs, meaning Manchester City might be a part of a transfer battle to sign another young striker. But Nunez’s qualities – especially his prowess on the ball and efficient link-up – make him an ideal option for Pep Guardiola.
The Premier League champions have recently joined the race to sign Nunez, and one can expect them to be one of the favourites to secure his signature. And like Haaland, the Uruguayan striker can be a long-term solution for Manchester City unless his growth tails off, akin to Gabriel Jesus.
The final name on our list is another striker who is already on Manchester City’s radar. And much like Haaland, this player faces a highly uncertain future at his current club. We are talking about Inter Milan Lautaro Martinez.
In fairness, the Argentine international’s agent recently insisted that his client is happy at Inter Milan and unlikely to depart San Siro in the summer transfer window. But things change quickly in a transfer window, which is why Martinez staying put at Inter Milan might not be a foregone conclusion.
Much like Nunez, Martinez is far from a prolific striker. But his abilities on the ball could make him an attractive option for Guardiola, especially if signing Haaland becomes out of Manchester City’s reach. Unlike Nunez, Martinez is closer to his peak years, meaning he could hit the ground running upon joining Manchester City, further making him an enticing option.