Speculations continue to grow concerning Manchester City’s search for a top-class striker to replace Sergio Aguero.
Ideally, young players are groomed to take over from older ones who have gone past their prime. That’s the main reason for the academy. Exceptional talents can also be secured from elsewhere early so they can learn and grow under the club’s tutelage.
The acquisition of Gabriel Jesus back in 2017 was geared towards achieving that goal. But the Brazilian’s recent numbers have not been anything out of the ordinary. Pep Guardiola didn’t even demonstrate confidence in the player in the just-concluded season.
If the Brazilian was trusted to lead the line moving forward, this would have been the best time to step into Aguero’s shoes. Current developments suggest Jesus may either be shipped out as a makeweight to sign a top striker or continue the number two role he has played for several years, this time to another player.
At just 24 years old, that puts a question mark on the future of other upcoming strikers like Lukas Nmecha and Liam Delap who are at various stages of development looking to one day get their chance to feature for the first team at the Etihad Stadium.
While Delap is still much younger though, Nmecha is already 22. The German has been at City for over a decade and came closest to cementing his place in the senior team in 2018 after making his debut for the club in December 2017 in the EFL Cup. It was a happy debut as he scored the third penalty for Man City in the penalty shootout win over Leicester City.
Preparatory to the start of the 2018/19 campaign, the then 19-year-old was involved in several preseason matches with the senior team. However, he was later shipped out on a season-long loan to Championship side Preston North End.
Despite getting the opportunity to play regularly with the side, his numbers in front of goal were quite poor as he scored just four goals in 41 appearances for the club.
Another loan move to Wolfsburg for the 2019/20 campaign was cut short mid-season. The player left the German Bundesliga side in January 2020 after finding playing time hard to come by. With only six appearances in six months, the purpose of the loan was defeated.
He then spent the remainder of the season at Middlesbrough but featured only 11 times.
Having played with him while still at City, Vincent Kompany felt the young player could help his project at his boyhood club Anderlecht. It turned out to be a great move as the young player is flourishing in the Belgium Jupiler League.
Featuring prominently for the Belgian top-flight side, Nmecha netted 18 goals in 37 outings for the 2020–21 campaign. He has scored 21 times in a total of 41 appearances for the Kompany-tutored side.
Surely he is getting ready for the big leagues.
But the dream of starring for the Blues may never materialise.
That’s because Anderlecht want to sign him permanently and City are willing to let the player go.
Should he stay or should he go?