Man City desperately need Kane after toothless loss to Leicester, despite addition of £100m Grealish

Manchester City seemed to have finally cracked the problem that has haunted them for years: scoring goals. Through the first five matches of the Premier League season, they have scored 10 goals, the most of any team and more than twice as many as any other Manchester club has managed this season. This seemingly bright start to the campaign was muddied last night, however, as they lost a 1-0 game to Leicester City, who were recently included in the top five teams in the world by the International Federation of Football Associations. It was the first time City have lost by a goal this season.

Man City were beaten by Leicester City this weekend, who brilliantly stole all three points with a goal in the final minute of the game. City had led in the first half, but this was all wiped out when they could only muster a single goal at the end of the game.

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LONDON — At the end of a week in which Manchester City broke the Premier League transfer record by making Jack Grealish England’s first £100 million player, Leicester City’s 1-0 Community Shield victory over the champions at Wembley revealed that they may need to spend even more on Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane to give Pep Guardiola’s side a realistic chance of retaining their title this season.

Guardiola may have seen the irony in Leicester’s winning goal being scored by Kelechi Iheanacho, the Nigeria striker Guardiola declared surplus to needs in 2017 because he couldn’t see him competing with Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus for a starting place at the Etihad. City included a £50 million buy-back clause in the £25 million deal that brought Iheanacho to the King Power Stadium, and with all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero leaving for Barcelona on a free transfer this summer and Jesus proving to be little more than a backup option in recent seasons, the 24-year-old could be exactly the type of forward Guardiola requires right now.

When Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers needed to shake things up in the second half, he turned to Iheanacho as a substitute who he knew could make a difference, which he did by first winning (Iheanacho drew a clumsy foul from City defender Nathan Ake) and then scoring the 89th-minute penalty that settled the season-opener.

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On the winners’ bench, Guardiola had no such choice. Aguero’s departure and Jesus’ extended summer break following Copa America duty with Brazil left City manager Pep Guardiola without his two senior strikers from last season, but beyond those two, the locker was completely bare, and he admitted after the game that addressing the problem in the transfer market is far from guaranteed.

“No,” Guardiola replied. “It depends whether it’s feasible.” “If it is, we will do it; if it is not, we will play without a striker.”

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City still has a few players on vacation after international competitions this summer, but none of them are centre-forwards. Guardiola left no doubt that he has a big hole to fill in his offensive options ahead of the season by beginning with a front three of Ferran Torres, Cole Palmer, and Sam Edozie, all of whom are raw adolescents.

On Friday, City manager Pep Guardiola acknowledged his interest in acquiring Kane, but he also stated that a deal would not be possible if Spurs refuse to negotiate. According to ESPN, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would not even come to the table until City is willing to spend £160 million for the England captain, which presents a dilemma for Guardiola, whose chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, thinks Kane’s real worth is between £100 million and £120 million.

City’s and Tottenham’s valuations of Kane are both big amounts in any case, but this game underlined why City needs him so desperately and why Spurs have every right to demand a higher price.

Last season, City won the Premier League and the Carabao Cup, as well as reaching the Champions League final, despite Guardiola’s decision to play without a designated striker on many occasions. Guardiola benched both Aguero and Jesus in the Champions League final loss to Chelsea, instead playing Kevin De Bruyne as a false nine with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling out wide.

Jack Grealish made his Manchester City debut, but the Premier League winners failed to score. Getty Images/ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

City, on the other hand, would be foolish to go into this season without adding a world-class centre-forward to their team, which is why they may have to match Tottenham’s high asking price for Kane. Guardiola will not be able to depend on Jesus and Torres to carry the goal-scoring load this season, while Palmer and Edozie are essentially youngsters whose appearances will be limited to the early rounds of domestic cup competitions.

Grealish, who came in as a 65th-minute replacement for Edozie, will score goals and create plenty of opportunities for his new club, but his abilities will be squandered without a proven goal scorer on the receiving end of his assists.

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Kane is City’s primary offensive target. As a backup option, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski might be considered, but the priority right now is to sign Kane, and this loss against Leicester will allow Guardiola to make an even better case for Kane to Al Mubarak and chief executive Ferran Soriano.

Guardiola will inform his employers that City goalkeeper Zack Steffen faced much more shots than Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, and that the champions’ offense was worrisomely feeble. He might also mention that Manchester United has strengthened their offensive options by acquiring Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, while Chelsea is close to re-signing Romelu Lukaku from Internazionale.

The distance between City and its competitors is closing, and unless Guardiola can find a striker before the August 31 transfer deadline, the gap will widen much further.

They want Kane, and Kane wants to go to City, so a potential trade has a lot of momentum. Spurs chairman Levy, on the other hand, would have been the happiest man in the stadium, since he’ll have seen that City really need Kane and that, in order to get him, they’ll have to come much closer to his asking price.

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