Man City prolific forward line raises questions over £246m Erling Haaland transfer gamble
Manchester City’s summer pursuit of Harry Kane is well documented, as Pep Guardiola identified the Tottenham talisman as his preferred striking target and sought to acquire his services for the best part of three months. City began the season with Gabriel Jesus as their only recognised centre-forward, and Guardiola prefers to play the Brazilian on the wing.
Now, all sorts of names are being linked with City for this summer, and Erling Haaland is another name who has been mentioned. According to reports, Haaland’s release clause is £63million but agent Mino Raiola will demand around £58m to negotiate the transfer which will include wages of £25m per season over five years – totalling £125m.
Despite criticism for not replacing all-time top goalscorer Sergio Aguero, over the past two seasons City have shown they can cope without a classic no.9. Last season City won the Premier League title by a huge 12-point margin, scoring the most goals of any team with a tally of 83 while Aguero was injured for most of the campaign.
But once he returned to fitness, Aguero wasn’t always Guardiola’s first choice to lead the line, with the Spaniard opting to maintain faith with his system and deploy Phil Foden, Ferran Torres or even Kevin De Bruyne in the striker position. This season has seen a continuation of that tactic, as Foden, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez have shared the goalscoring burden.
City have scored 72 goals so far in the Premier League this season, and with seven games left to play, there is every chance Guardiola’s side could eclipse last season’s tally. Foden seems to be the Spaniard’s preferred choice to play through the centre, and the English international has made 18 appearances in that position this season.
But City’s 4-3-3 system allows the front three to fluidly alternate, while the two central midfielders also get involved higher up the pitch. Such is the efficiency of Guardiola’s tactics; his attacking players have chipped in with vital goals and assists this term.
Foden has scored 11 goals and recorded nine assists, while Sterling has a tally of 14 goals and seven assists. Jesus has scored seven and assisted 10, Grealish has four goals and three assists, and Mahrez has recorded an impressive 22 goals and seven assists.
De Bruyne and Bernardo have also made an impact from midfield, with the Belgian racking up 14 goals and eight assists while his Portuguese teammate has 10 goals and five assists to his name.
This accumulates to 82 goals and 49 assists in all competitions from Guardiola’s forward players this season, ahead of facing Liverpool in the FA Cup, and there’s still a lot of football to be played. What’s more, both De Bruyne and Mahrez are into double figures for Premier League, and De Bruyne is only one goal behind summer striking target Kane.
While City may miss the guarantee of goals that Aguero provided – the Argentine scored more than 20 Premier League goals in six of his ten seasons at the club – there is no doubt Guardiola’s attacking players are more than making up for it.