Manchester City look every bit like a complete team now. After suffering some setbacks at the back for the past couple of seasons due to shortage of quality manpower, Ruben Dias has come in to fill the void perfectly. The Portuguese has been so good the whole team is better due to his presence.
Centre-back partner John Stones has been the biggest beneficiary. The England international has rediscovered the form that saw City shell out megabucks for his services. Gareth Southgate must be excited. More so City fans.
Watching a player that held so much promise finally come good is satisfying to say the least.
That said, there is still room for more. If there is only one signing that needs to be made in the summer, it is a striker.
Pep Guardiola has played much of the season without his current strikers. Sometimes circumstances have made the decision for the Catalan boss due to injuries. But at other times, going without one made sense.
Who needs a striker when your wingers, midfielders and even defenders are scoring the required goals to win matches? With 11 points ahead of the nearest rival on the league table as the season winds down, the title is good as won.
The team is in another League Cup final and is progressing well in other competitions. It seems Guardiola cannot ask for more from his team. Except that things do not always remain the same. Sometimes, it takes just one game to go from lofty ambitions to settling for and appreciating the bird in hand.
Talk of City winning an unprecedented quadruple has been a regular occurrence in the last few years. Although the team came close to accomplishing the feat in 2019, last season’s collapse is a good lesson on how fast things can take a plunge downwards.
That is why constantly improving the squad must remain a priority. Currently, two important members of the squad are set to depart from the Etihad Stadium at the end of the campaign due to the expiration of their contracts.
Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho have been good servants of the club. Guardiola loves them, but just like that did not stop both Vincent Kompany and David Silva from leaving, it will not stop any other player. The most important thing is to make sure there are good replacements available to fill the void left in the team.
Fortunately, the Catalan boss has so far shown himself to be a good planner. Bernardo Silva and Rodri were brought in on time to make David Silva’s and Fernandinho’s departure less painful. The duo settled in quite well.
Gabriel Jesus has been an understudy to Aguero for the better part of four years. As good as the young Brazilian can be on his day, he is not quite the specimen required to play a leading role in a club like City moving forward. Maybe the 23-year-old will come good in a couple of years.
However, like his predecessor Kelechi Iheanacho, he is just not ready to fill those big shoes as the main man yet. At best he should be a backup that sees regular playing time.
The man that can make City fans miss Aguero much less after the 32-year-old is gone remains Erling Haaland. Therefore, the Norwegian should be the prime target in the summer transfer window.
The Borussia Dortmund forward is a natural predator, a team player and sublime finisher. He has an impeccable work rate and produces the goods when needed.
His numbers are not only impressive but have led to comparisons between him and Cristiano Ronaldo. He and Kylian Mbappe are expected to take over from Ronaldo and Lionel Messi moving forward.
He is the perfect player to spearhead the next era of Blues that will dominate Europe.
But getting him will not be easy.
To start with, his release clause, which activates in 2022, is £90million. What that means is a nine-figure amount could be required to price him away from Dortmund this summer. Only a few clubs can afford that in the tighter financial era brought about by the pandemic.
City normally baulk at paying such amounts for players. However, since there is no urgent need to strengthen any other position in the team, paying a one-off record fee to sign a generational player that could make a huge difference in the team is doable. That can be the only acquisition made in the transfer window.
In this regard, the player’s childhood connection with City will be a huge advantage.
He supported City as a boy as his dad Alf Inge, played for the Blues in the early 2000s. Convincing him to follow the family tradition should not be that hard, especially with Inge’s help.