With the European Championships concluded, the transfer market appears set to ramp up as the beginning of a new Premier League season draws near. For Manchester City so far, it has been a summer defined by the club’s search for Sergio Agüero’s replacement, a true top-of-the-line forward who can carry Pep Guardiola’s men to even greater heights in the years to come.
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Much of the focus has surrounded Tottenham striker Harry Kane, but his availability has always been the central question, with Spurs and Daniel Levy refusing to let the player leave for any sort of reasonable fee. Beyond that, talks of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland have circled the rumor mill, but little to no substance has come from it. Given the current state of the market, I believe City will either not sign a striker at all, or an option will arise that has yet to be discussed as the club considers backup plans. The player I had previously thought the most likely of these potential options, André Silva, quickly secured a summer move to RB Leipzig.
Some names that could arise are Benfica’s young forward Darwin Núñez or Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak. Both of these options are more in line with City’s model of younger, less proven players with great potential. City could also look toward domestic options such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Danny Ings, assuming they are dissatisfied with entering the season with just Gabriel Jesus and Liam Delap as the forwards.
The other much-speculated move has been for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. The midfielder has been one of the Premier League’s best players recently, and would suit Guardiola’s side well alongside fellow England stars Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden. I have personally always felt that a Grealish move is much more likely than one for Kane, but at the fees currently being reported, a move for Grealish also seems unlikely. Despite City’s heavy spending, they have yet to eclipse £65 million in any one transfer, so dropping £90 million on one player would be in great contrast with the model of the past, especially not in a position of great need.
Therefore, as things stand, I believe City will not sign either of the big names they have been mooted with this summer. This would not be out of character, as very similar things happened a year ago with Kalidou Koulibaly in the lead up to the Rúben Dias transfer. I do believe City are more likely than not to sign a striker, but it will most likely be a lesser-known young talent in a foreign league.
If I were running the club, I would make Haaland my top priority and make Dortmund a strong pitch: with the player’s £75 million release clause active next summer, he is all but set to leave in less than 12 month’s time. If City offer £125 million now and are turned down by the club, Dortmund are effectively paying a £50 million loan fee to keep the player for one season, which if viewed in this manner would be a laughably poor financial decision. This type of deal would be a win for all involved: City move ahead of serious suitors such as Chelsea for the world’s best young striker, solve their chief issue heading into next season, and Dortmund get a massive financial boost as they seek a replacement. However, if such an offer has been made, it has not appeared to gain ground, so the status quo appears set to remain heading into 2021/22, at least for the moment.