Manchester City: 2021/22 season preview
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Manchester City have now missed out on deals for Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo this summer, but Pep Guardiola’s judgement looks to be proved right as the Citizens continue to fire without a clear no.9..
Manchester City obliterated Arsenal at the Etihad on Saturday in a 5–0 win, with Pep Guardiola’s forwards producing the goods despite still being without a clear no.9, but he manner of the win proved the Spaniard was right to end the club’s pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
City took just seven minutes to get the game underway with Ilkay Gundogan nodding home from close range after a neat Gabriel Jesus cross. Ferran Torres, who was City’s most central forward, made it 2-0 just five minutes later to give Arteta’s side a mountain to climb. Jesus got a goal of his own later in the first half, slotting past Bernd Leno after a well-worked team move.
Rodri scored a fine goal to begin the second half, placing his effort into the bottom-right corner from just outside of the area, and fellow Spaniard Torres added his second five minutes from time, nodding in as City walked to victory.
The win ended a poor week off the pitch for City on a positive note, following failed moves for Kane and Ronaldo. However, Guardiola might be feeling better about his decision not to sign a striker after the game.
Throughout the summer it looked to be a matter of when, not if, Kane would join Manchester City after making it clear he wanted to leave Tottenham.
However, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy failed to negotiate as City were reluctant to meet his £150million price-tag and pay over the odds, so Guardiola turned his interest to Ronaldo, and it looked as though the deal was done.
Again, City were reluctant to pay £25m for a player turning 37 in February, and Manchester United swooped in to hijack the deal, but following a 5-0 victory at home to Arsenal on Saturday, Guardiola’s judgement has been proved right.
City have a near perfect squad, but following the decline and eventual departure of Sergio Aguero, a natural no.9 has been an area of concern, but Guardiola’s side can easily perform without one for the time being.
It was a slow start to the season for City and there were worrying signs after the Premier League champions failed to score against Leicester in the Community Shield and away to Tottenham in their opening league game.
This highlighted their need for a striker but to their credit, City stayed true to their values and it already appears to be an issue of the past.
City have certainly splashed the cash since Sheikh Mansour took over the club in 2008, but they rarely pay over the odds for a player and were comfortable walking away from the Kane deal this summer, although it’s likely they’ll be back.
The Manchester side also rarely sign player’s over the age of 30, so the signing of Ronaldo would always have been an anomaly, but who can blame them, it’s Ronaldo.
It is believed that City were happy to get a deal done for Ronaldo if they didn’t have to pay a fee, but when this wasn’t an option, they ended their interest in the Portuguese star, and seem content with their squad for the season ahead.
Following their disappointing matches against Leicester and Tottenham, City haven’t been able to stop scoring and put five past Norwich before also thrashing a woeful Arsenal side 5-0, and the Premier League record signing of Jack Grealish has strengthened the Citizens even more.
Guardiola still has Gabriel Jesus as his most natural no.9, but the Brazilian seems to have found his feet playing in a wider role, with Ferran Torres taking on a more central position.
City have an abundance of talent, and Guardiola was right not to show signs of desperation to secure a player that they aren’t in dire need of, despite it being the only position they lack some depth.
They are also holding back with the hopes that they will secure a marquee no.9 next summer, with Levy expected to not be as stubborn this time around, and Erling Haaland’s release clause comes into action ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Haaland could be available for £76m and could lead the line for a generation, just as Aguero did for City, and the Norwegian has links to the club after his father formerly played in sky blue.
City are one of the most attractive propositions in Europe, and if Haaland favours a move to the Premier League, it’s hard to look past Guardiola’s side as favourites to sign the star.
There will be a battle amongst all of Europe’s elite however, as clubs will be battling to secure Haaland’s signature.
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