It is official. Manchester City may not sign a striker to replace Sergio Aguero in the summer.
Pep Guardiola dropped the bomb in a recent press conference ahead of the game against Leicester City. When questioned about City’s plans on replacing the legendary striker, Guardiola shocked everyone by claiming the club may not sign a replacement in the coming transfer window due to the state of the market and the effects of the pandemic on football as a whole.
“I don’t know what is going to happen but at these prices we are not going to buy any striker,” he said.
“It’s impossible. We cannot afford it. All the clubs are struggling financially, us as well.
“Today there is more chance we will not buy a striker next season.”
We have been through this before. When former captain Vincent Kompany decided to leave the club to pursue his ambition of transitioning into management, the Belgian left a huge void at the Etihad Stadium. Not only did City need a defender to fill in at the back, the team needed his leadership in the dressing room.
The result was catastrophic.
The team not only failed to defend the Premier League title, but it also collapsed in the Champions League. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal also exploited City’s fragile defence to secure a shock 2-0 victory in the semi-final of the FA Cup on the road to Arteta’s first silverware as head coach.
It seems history is about to repeat itself.
Following the surprise announcement that Aguero (the last of the old guard that started City’s remarkable rise to prominence) was set to leave the club at the end of the campaign, many have wondered if he was making room for a new striker. The media went into overdrive with stories of how one of Erling Haaland, Harry Kane or even Kylian Mbappe was set to grace the Etihad Stadium in a big-money move.
Although Guardiola’s stance has not succeeded in ending the rumours, one can see the club going through the summer without buying a striker. It is easy to believe the Catalan boss as he is one of the most honest people you can find out there. He would not come out to purposely mislead the public if the club was genuinely planning a big-money move for one of the aforementioned names.
Yet, stating that the club may not sign a replacement at all is rather surprising. It is one thing to spend big on a generational talent like Halaad or Mbappe. But if that proves too difficult to accomplish, at least the club can settle for a cheaper alternative.
Sure, filling Aguero’s boots will be difficult even for the likes of Haaland and Mbappe, but signing a cover is still better than having none.
That is not to say Gabriel Jesus is not a good player. Having only him as the available striker is just not enough for a club with Man City’s ambition. The Brazilian has even admitted that he is not a striker in the mould of the departing Aguero. He often likes to play from the wings and bring his fellow attackers into the game. It is a bit different from how a proper striker hungry for goals will approach the game.
The fact that the 24-year-old is also prone to injuries should be put into consideration as well. At such times, there will be a need for another player to carry on the goal-scoring responsibility.
The team’s success this season has shown it can do without Aguero. With goals shared among the players while keeping the backdoor shut for most of the time, the team has continued to fly. But for how long? There is a good reason why teams need and use proper strikers. They provide the goals even when other players fail to do so.
True, in the end, it is a team sport and everyone’s contribution matters. Yet, specialists are always required. Whether for penalties, corner kicks or free kicks. Just as the lack of a top defender can cost a team silverware, top-class midfielders and strikers can too.
At this point, Guardiola has earned the trust of most City fans. We may have to wait and see how things unfold. Having learned his lessons from seasons past, he will definitely be wary of taking decisions that would affect his team’s chances of success negatively.
Maybe he has seen enough from his squad to know they can succeed without an additional striker. Otherwise, the decision could be counterproductive.