Kane, Haaland, Mbappe? Who could Man City sign to replace Aguero long-term?

This article was first published on ESPN on the 23rd. February 2021 and has been updated.

Manchester City have won 22 of their 30 Premier League games this season and picked up 14 points, and are on course to clinch the Premier League title. One area where they haven’t been as dominant as they have been in recent years, however, is for the goal. In their last three league games, they averaged over 2.5 goals per game, but that number has dropped to 2.1 this season.

One of the reasons is the frequent absence of record goal scorer Sergio Aguero. But with the Argentine international out on loan this summer and Gabriel Jesus failing to impress as a replacement with 12 goals in 30 league games, City will be looking for a new striker in the next transfer window.

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The KOVID-19 pandemic has shaken the global economy, and no one is sure of the short-term, let alone longer-term consequences. Even the biggest clubs have financial problems. Although billionaires in Abu Dhabi seem to work in a different environment than the rest of us, they can still feel the effects. In July 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted City’s two-year suspension from European football for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, and the focus on their finances has never been greater.

In fact, manager Pep Guardiola said in October that if you decide to buy a striker, it should be one in the class of Gabriel and Sergio, but we can’t afford that. That’s the reality. However, this is a club that has spent almost £1.5 billion on players over the past decade and even spent over £120 million last summer on Ruben Diaz, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres.

Although Guardiola has overhauled his attacking structure to rely less on a traditional centre-forward, the addition of a world-class striker in that position is still tempting given Aguero’s success in recent years. On the understanding that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is too old (34) and probably too expensive (in terms of salary demands) to make a long-term impact for City, here are five star strikers who could help City win back their freebies.

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Perhaps the most important striker of the decade is Haland – a true goalscoring machine whose remarkable numbers speak for themselves: 21 goals in 21 Bundesliga games and ten in six Champions League games this season. Although the Norwegian international doesn’t look as refined, elegant or technically gifted as Guardiola’s favourite striker, it makes sense that City would seriously consider signing him, especially as his father Alf Inge was already a player at the club.

There is no doubt that Haaland improved his combination game last year (an area that still needed to be worked on, as well as his aerial skills). Of course the 20-year-old is still developing, but the facts are that he should be able to score, contribute and thrive regardless of the style of football or system. Moreover, Haland is potentially one of the best-selling players in the world commercially (especially in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo/Messi era), which is a plus for any Premier League club. Sources have revealed to ESPN that Haaland could leave Borussia Dortmund for €180m this summer. He reportedly has a €75m buyout clause from 2022, but City would be wise to get in early before the competition heats up.

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1:09

Don Hutchison explains why Harry Kane should leave Tottenham for Man City this summer.

Tottenham are not eager to let their star striker go and recent reports point to a £150m valuation, but the club increasingly feel they will miss out on the Champions League next season after a disappointing season under Jose Mourinho. It may become harder for them to stay if City come this summer.

Kane turns 28 this summer and it could make sense to consider offers as his contract expires in 2024, although Tottenham would not want him to go to a Premier League rival. From City’s point of view, Kane’s ability and his track record as the world number nine means that Guardiola will overlook any minor technical weaknesses of his in City’s system. However, a club could just as easily be hesitant to pay so much money for a player who is already at the peak of his development and may not develop much further.

It is widely believed that the PSG superstar will eventually go to Real Madrid and City have not really emerged as an option in the media. Given Madrid’s financial woes, City are likely to have considered a transfer as the 22-year-old’s contract expires in the summer of 2022.

The 2018 World Cup winner, who was signed for €145m in 2017 (with a further €35m in bonuses potentially going to Monaco), is still considering his options with France. Should he stay in Ligue 1 (reportedly wanting to extend his contract) or move to a more prestigious environment in the Premier League or La Liga? Leaving aside the theoretically unpleasant prospect of PSG’s Qatari owners letting their biggest star move to an Emirati rival, the multi-talented Mbappé would obviously improve any club he joins, but City could be left out in the cold.

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Julien Laurens asks about possible destinations for Sergio Aguero if he leaves Manchester City this summer?

Lukaku scored an impressive 42 goals in 62 Serie A games after leaving Manchester United in the summer of 2019 for around €80 million. Inter are on course to win their first Scudetto in more than a decade, but the club could soon change hands. Such potentially devastating events can impact a club’s ability to retain its most valuable players, and Lukaku is certainly one of those players.

The Belgian international’s greatest strength is his speed and power, but he now looks like a better left-back than he was in the Premier League. He also seems more comfortable playing with his right foot and seems smarter at making tactical decisions. At 27, he is at the same stage of his career as Kane, but his past at local rivals City United could limit his willingness (or that of the club) to do a deal.

The Portuguese international is by far the most passionate player in the team, but he is more of a dribbler than a penalty taker. He came over from Benfica for €126 million in 2019 and in some ways he still justifies that price tag (despite a good season in La Liga), but at 21 years old he still has time to live up to his huge potential.

He has an excellent touch, his movements are as sharp as they are fluid and he has excellent natural game insight, making him a perfect reliever for City’s patient but incisive attacking game.

He is usually used as a second striker by Atletico coach Diego Simeone, but he can also play as a false number 9 and drop deep to create space and keep wide, attacking midfielders busy. Atletico won’t let him leave and he signed until June 2026 when he joined them, but Felix could give City another option for the rest.

frequently asked questions

Who will replace Aguero?

Barcelona would prefer to sign Sergio Aguero, while Man City are considering a replacement for Erling Haaland.

Is Kane better than Aguero?

Aguero has lost 373 times in 649 appearances for the club, while Kane has lost 197 times in 343 appearances. If you look at the goals-per-game ratio, their records are identical: both scored 0.69 goals per Premier League game and 0.57 goals per game during their club careers.

Is Aguero fit to play for Man City?

Sergio Aguero has continued his comeback by taking part in Manchester City’s training after the win over Tottenham.

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