By Jonathan Lewis | 30th April 2021
After 385 appearances and 257 goals, Sergio Aguero’s time at Manchester City is coming to an end.
It has been confirmed that the 32-year-old’s contract will not be renewed, and so the remaining few weeks of the season will provide an emotional farewell for a player that has secured his legacy amongst City’s all-time greats.
It’s a fairytale story that could end with a Premier League and a Champions League winner’s medal, and while Aguero has been deemed surplus to requirements by Pep Guardiola this season, he would still qualify for a piece of silverware around his neck given his squad status.
— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) April 28, 2021
Indeed, Manchester City have been installed as 4/6 favourites in the Champions League 2021 odds after their 2-1 win in the first leg of their semi-final against PSG, and it would take a pessimist of some repute to bet against the Cityzens now.
When the dust has settled on what is likely to be a successful campaign, Guardiola will have to start considering how he intends to replace Aguero in attack. The Spanish coach hasn’t always opted for an out-and-out striker. However, the options available to him – Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva – suggest that an acquisition is necessary.
So who will be on Pep’s shortlist?
Erling Braut Haaland
A veritable goal machine, Erling Braut Haaland has averaged a strike per game since leaping to prominence at Red Bull Salzburg.
He’s gone up another level since joining Borussia Dortmund, scoring for fun in a strong Bundesliga and in the Champions League, and the Norwegian appears ready to step up to the very elite of club football.
There are a couple of downsides, however. The 20-year-old is an old-fashioned centre forward – he doesn’t offer much during the chance creation phase of the game – and Pep generally prefers those who act as a link man in the ‘false nine’ role.
It’s also unlikely you will get Haaland for anything less than £100 million – at a time when football’s finances have been hit, maybe even Manchester City would find that too steep. But at odds of 6/4, they remain the favourites to snap up the Norwegian.
What an extraordinary transfer this would be in English football.
Approaching his 28th birthday, Harry Kane knows he needs to leave Tottenham in order to win the trophies he craves – there’s certainly no shortage of silverware being handed to Manchester City, who are priced at 5/2 to be the England international’s next club.
🗣”We still have a way to go before we can reach that level of City and those teams at the top of the league.”
Harry Kane has conceded that Tottenham are no match for Manchester City following their 1-0 League Cup final defeat pic.twitter.com/fzrytTTDgn
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 28, 2021
Kane isn’t an archetypal Pep frontman, but he has worked hard on his game and is now more comfortable dropping into deeper areas and acting as an orchestrator as much as a scorer. Has Guardiola been watching?
Could Memphis be heading for a Manchester return?
The former United attacker has been a player reborn since recovering from a career-threatening knee injury, and he has surely reached the end of the road with Lyon, a club that continues in its struggle to make inroads into PSG’s dominance.
Depay’s versatility would be welcomed by Pep, and at 27 he fits the age profile of a Manchester City signing. They certainly enjoy picking up players who are at the peak of their powers.
If City’s financiers do want to tighten their belt, Pep may be forced to opt for a cut-price option.
Danny Ings certainly wouldn’t let anybody down on domestic duty, and even at 28 he seems to still be improving. In the last two Premier League seasons, he has netted 32 goals and counting.
Nothing more than a squad option, Ings brings plenty to the party and would be a more affordable option than the other three players on this shortlist.
It might not be entirely clear what route Pep will take. However, what is clear to all is that there isn’t a shortage of quality goalscorers in Europe at the moment.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer