Falcao, Edison Cavani and Robert Lewandowski appear to be the hottest properties on the wanted lists this summer and City could be well placed to land one, although it does appear as though two of those could soon be scratched from the wanted list.
With Mario Balotelli now in Milan and Edin Dzeko appearing as though he is on the way out City will need to add in this area. They may well have the money too depending upon any fee recouped for Dzeko to add to the £20m for Balotelli and seemingly would be willing to pay in the region of £40million for the right player.
City do need goals however. In terms of creating opportunities there has not been too much of a drop off from last season but where they have struggled is matching the highs of 2012/13 in terms of converting chancing. But which of the trio, or in fact any others on the market, would suit City's style and requirements best?
Balotelli is gone (and tearing it up for Milan. Crazy is as crazy does). Dzeko is also likely off to parts unknown. That leaves City with Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, and... John Guidetti?
So City need at least one new goalscoring forward this summer and would need to buy a second if Tevez is headed elsewhere. The problem with this whole buying thing is that forwards are expensive and Champions League calibre ones are particularly so. I also think a new forward or two is needed to help energize the entire attack, one that grew a bit stagnant this past season.
Prior to his new deal announcement, I was sure that Shuddertothink was probably going to only fill this slot with Gareth Bale, so I won't say much other than that Bale's stat profile looks a lot like Cristiano Ronaldo. He's rapidly turned in to an efficient, creative shot monster that can play any position across the front, add width on the left, and could have even better numbers when playing for a better team. The problem? A likely price of £50-60million.
This section originally contained a giant paean to the virtues of Lewandowski, explaining how he only had one year on his contract and at the price you could pay (£25million), you'd be getting one of the best forwards in Europe. This made buying Lewandowski and overpaying his salary a no-brainer. Sadly, his heart is set on playing for the club that is managed by Pep Guardiola and will likely dominate Europe for the next five seasons.
Thus we're left with a conundrum. Cavani is out there and his most likely destination is at City but I also wrote about a bunch of other guys on the market here. The problem with that list is that City already own one of those players (Dzeko), Lewandowski and Radamel Falcao are gone, Mario Gomez would get just as much bitching as Dzeko, and Txiki Begiristain isn't going back down the Zlatan brick road... time for something different!
I've been doing a lot of research into stats and attacking players, and I have Erik Lamela listed as the best young forward prospect in Europe. A touch over 6 feet tall and from Argentina, Lamela lit Serie A on fire this year. He had 15 goals/5 assists in 30 starts at Roma this season and is only 21 years old. The thing that sets him ahead of Lukaku and Benteke for me is that his game is more cultured.
He completes about 1.7 key passes per game (just short of elite, but he's young), and had an absurd three successful dribbles a game as well (third in Serie A). He's used to a slick passing style, and completes 82%, which is an excellent rate for a forward. For comparison, Lukaku completed 72.7% at West Brom this year, and Benteke completed 65% for Villa - different systems and styles, but still...and his best work has been done on the right side of the forward line!
If City decide to eschew the upper end of the market and drop down a level there are plenty of prospects around for them to take a look. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: if you read the rumor mill, you likely already know this name even if you have never seen him play. Aubameyang has produced 16 goals/7 assists and 19/9 the last two years and turns 24 this summer. One season of production in France might be a fluke, but a second one that shows improvement (he got much better at putting shots on goal) means he's the real deal.
He's quick, can play wide, and is actually pretty good in the air as well. His passing in the final third isn't up to City standards, but a full preseason in the City camp could help that. He is almost certainly moving to a bigger club this summer, but the question is what country and for how much? Likely price? £15-20million.
Oh, and uh... he celebrated a goal by putting on a Spider-man mask and pretending to shoot webs. Cool kid.
Cheap options? Let's be honest here, there's no such thing as a cheap striker that meets City's needs.
Ahead of the three part exercise (also see the defence and midfield parts) Shuddertothink and I agreed to a £70million pound spending cap this summer. Given that, here are the combinations I came up with:
Cavani (£51million) + Chico (£10million) + Mollo (£7million)= £68million.
Lamela (£30million) + Isco (£20million) + Schneiderlein(£12million) + Chico (£10million) = £72million.
Restocking with the top option gives you one of the few remaining superstar forwards on the market and an outstanding third center back option, who is young enough to be part of the club foundation for another 6-7 years.
It also adds another slick, fast winger into the mix to bring width and cover for any potential injuries. Going with the second option gives you the best young forward in Europe, another young midfield star who has already been blooded in the Champions League, a rising star who in the Premier League at defensive midfield, and the same solid CB as in option 1.
If City could find a way to convince Lewandowski to come to England, I would replace Lamela with him and choose the second package of guys. However, that looks like a big ask at this point, which means City will probably get stuck in for Cavani - an exciting, but incredibly expensive move however you slice it.
We all know City are going to buy a striker, it is a matter of when not if. And it will be a big signing to boot. Balotelli failed at City this year and it would appear that either Dzeko or Tevez will also be leaving the club. This will leave a hole in the striking positions, but who fills it? My Lord I wish I could say it was going to be Gareth Bale!
Edison Cavani is, at 26 years old, the perfect age for a big money signing. The player has played enough seasons to be able to correctly analyze his performances and just young enough for the club that signs him to get five peak years of performance out of the player. Cavani has 29 goals/5 assists in 34 league games including 12 goals to put his team into the lead (this is crucial). In the previous two season Cavani has gone 49/13 in 70 league games. Cavani is a shot monster who records over four shots and over two shots on target per 90 mins. There's barely a fault in his game.
This is a player with consistently high levels of performance, who is still young and has many prime years left. He will be might expensive but probably worth it. Likely Cost? £40million.
Which other luxury strikers may be on Man City's hit list?
I agree with Mixedknuts on Lewandowski. He is 25 years old and has tore up the Bundesliga this year scoring 24 goals with just one coming from the penalty spot; mighty impressive. 54 goals/14 assists in 78 games at Dortmund is a good historic record. But it appears that Lewandowski is Bayern bound.
How about Falcao? Already gone, and the player had some red flags anyway. If Falcao and Lewandowski have been bought by other clubs and Cavani is option A, what remains are the slim pickings. Ibra and Higuain don't quite fit the bill. Neither do Gomez or Jovetic. Bale and Suarez are two super players, both are unlikely to move within the division.
I feel like it is Cavani or bust.
My own thoughts are that City are unlikely to go the budget route for a striker. The big money gets spent at the sharp end of the field and that means strikers. Expensive one's. But if City do go the cheaper route it may come in the form of an early 20's prospect signing. The wisdom of this is highly questionable, doesn't mean it won't happen though.
Mauro Icardi of Sampdoria could be a target here but I have gone for a player who has had a great season. Heung Min-Son. Never heard of him right? Plays for Hamburg, 20 years old and scorer of some fine goals this term. 12 goals/2 assists in 33 games this season.
Min-Son has 2.61 shots per 90 minutes and 1.20 SoT per 90 minutes. Admittedly these are hardly eye watering numbers but it is difficult for young strikers to score or register huge shot totals at a young age. He would be a long term prospect but would fit nicely with Guidetti in the #3 or 4 striker slot and his signing may pay dividends long term. Any signing of a prospect is a risk, just ask Txiki Begiristain about Keirrison at Barcelona. It is difficult to say what he may cost but the 'City premium' may come into play to force the price into the £10million range.
With £70million burning a hole in my pocket, here's how I splash the cash:
Cavani (£40million) + Kondogbia (£15million) + Payet (£12million) + £3million for new contract for one of Kolo Toure or Joleon Lescott = £70million in total. Cavani's number could change drastically if Dzeko is included. We fix the striker issue, we get a midfield prospect and a mid-20's highly skilled wide/forward player. We also get a little more security with an experienced center back staying at the club.
If Cavani has gone someplace else and Lewandowski/Higuain, somehow, wanted to move I would go with:
Lewandowski/Higuain (£25million) + Draxler (£15million) + Min-Son £(10million) + an experienced midfielder like Fernandinho (£25million) = £75m. A slight over spend but hey, sales should raise some money. We get a couple of prospects and some genuine talent in the midfield and forward positions.