When the greatest goalscorer in the history of the club is getting ready to leave, some planning needs to go into his replacement.
After Manchester City and Sergio Aguero confirmed reports that the player will leave at the end of his contract this summer, all talk swiftly turned to who would be the best replacement for Pep Guardiola’s side to sign.
Aguero is almost guaranteed to go abroad, with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain the most linked teams for his signature, but whether they’re the best option remains to be seen. For City, the options on who to sign are much less frequent and will be much more expensive. So who is the best option?
The obvious two names that come to everyone’s lips are Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.
Haaland is a 20-year-old Norwegian international who already has an affiliation with the blue half of Manchester, with his father Alf-Inge being the former captain of the club. Erling was born in Leeds but brought up as a Man City fan due to his father’s playing career and there is a well known photograph of a young Haaland in a City shirt.
His profile fits the striker role well too, with goals galore coming in all forms. Whether it be left foot, right foot, header, tap in, scrappy or emphatic, Haaland has the finish in his locker and at only 20 he is impressionable enough for Guardiola to be able to mould any weaknesses or flaws he may have.
He has seemingly got a ‘win at all costs’ mentality too which will go down well, while physically he seems to be strong and mobile enough to cope with the Premier League. One issue in pursuing Haaland would undoubtedly be his price, with Dortmund likely to ask for in excess of £150m to part with the player this summer. City will think twice, especially with the knowledge that he has a release clause that activates next summer for less than half that amount.
That could lead them to the current Spurs hitman Kane, who reportedly could seek to leave north London if they fail to make the Champions League next season.
Rumours of Kane’s future have been rife for years but he has stayed loyal to Tottenham, even signing a new six-year deal with the club in 2018 meaning he will still have three years to run on the deal at the end of the campaign.
The fee to bring him to another Premier League club will likely be as high as any potential fee for Haaland, but it may seem a little more worth it.
The England striker will be 28 by the time the new season begins and entering his prime. He is chasing several goal records, including being the most credible threat to Alan Shearer‘s all-time Premier League record and also Wayne Rooney’s England record.
But this season he has developed an entirely new side to his game, where the creative bones have come out as well as his clinical striker abilities. He currently leads the Premier League charts for assists and has shown a passing range that most midfielders would cry for.
This all round game would likely suit Guardiola’s possession-heavy approach more than just a pure poacher, but he is still more than capable of getting 20+ league goals a season and 30+ goals in all competitions.
The issue for Kane has always been fitness, with ankle and hamstring injuries plaguing him throughout his career and often causing him to miss large chunks of the campaign. While that isn’t too different from what Aguero has had to deal with during his City career, the huge price tag could put City off for that reason.
Who else is there? It now seems highly unlikely that Lionel Messi will be targeted in the summer, while Kylian Mbappe is more likely to stay put at PSG or move to Real Madrid than join Manchester City.
Romelu Lukaku has been linked as a target and despite his goalscoring exploits in Italy it would be incredibly hard to picture him in a Guardiola team. As good as he is, stylistically they are like chalk and cheese and there is no reason for Lukaku to look to move away from Serie A considering how well he is doing and the fact he is about to win the league with Antonio Conte.
Antoine Griezmann could become available if Barcelona opt to offload him and his style could see him fit in very well at Manchester City. He is more of a technical playmaker by trade who prefers to play in a slightly withdrawn role, but is more than capable of being the most advanced attacker. City could also look at his former club Atletico Madrid for a potential move for Joao Felix who is reportedly unhappy under Diego Simeone.
The Portuguese wonderkid may actually be the best fit possible for Guardiola. He is capable of playing across the front line, dropping deep to link play, has a fantastic eye for goal, can dribble, beat players one on one and also has a great eye for a pass. He is young and coachable and while he would certainly be expensive, he’d probably cost less than Kane or Haaland.
City will have to go big in the transfer market regardless of who they opt to sign to replace Aguero, unless they choose not to replace his status and just replace his place in the squad. After all, they are about to win the league with their number nine Gabriel Jesus having only scored seven league goals.