It might seem like the end of the world that Manchester City haven’t signed a new striker, but the market is shaping up nicely when the Blues return for a high profile forward in 2022.
City made a top striker a priority this summer after Sergio Aguero’s departure, and prime target Harry Kane last week confirmed he wouldn’t be moving after failing to secure a transfer away from Tottenham. An opportunistic move for Cristiano Ronaldo also fell through when Manchester United got wind of the deal, giving the Reds his extortionate wage commitments rather than City.
The Blues have always said they have the money for a big signing – with Jack Grealish’s £100m move funded by £60m of player sales. That money will presumably remain available next season, with a new striker the priority for the next two transfer windows.
Assuming no new addition arrives before Tuesday’s deadline, the next few months will be geared towards who City could sign next year. That talk is likely to be dominated by one name: Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian has remained at Borussia Dortmund, who have managed to hold onto their prize asset this summer with a strong ‘not-for-sale’ stance that the player has respected. Perhaps that is due to his release clause, which will make one of the most prolific strikers on the market available for a reported £75m next summer. Some reports say it could even be active in January.
At that price, Haaland will be at the head of an almighty scramble for his signature, and City will know that opportunities like that don’t come around too often – especially with two £100m transfers in the Premier League this summer and potentially another in Europe to come. However, so will every other club able to spend £75m. It will be about who can offer Haaland the best project, and perhaps the best contract.
While City are going without a striker this season, they will look at the business of other rivals and be encouraged that they might get close to a free run at Haaland.
With Romelu Lukaku going to Chelsea for a club-record £100m fee, and Kane staying at Tottenham, City’s domestic rivals are showing they might not need Haaland. United have signed Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo this summer – for considerable transfer and wage fees – so they may be less able to afford Haaland than they might have been.
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If anything, missing out on Ronaldo could boost City’s Haaland chances, and the long-term benefits of that prospect are obvious.
Lionel Messi is another who City missed out on as PSG conducted an eye-catching set of free transfers, although all deals that are likely to send their wage bill rocketing. If Kylian Mbappe goes to Real Madrid, who have bid around £150m, then Real are unlikely to be able to afford Haaland, and PSG will still have another year with Messi’s wages on their books.
Liverpool might be eyeing Haaland, as might Bayern Munich, but they have their own world-class forwards. For City’s frustrations in the transfer market this summer, they will look at all the elite strikers moving clubs and see a number of previous rivals for the Norwegian who now either don’t need him, or can’t afford him.
If City go striker-less this summer but end up with Haaland next year, it would be a sacrifice worth paying.