Are Man City still missing a striker?

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August 8, 2021
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    When asked if their Community Shield defeat by Leicester underlined Manchester City's need to sign a striker, Pep Guardiola's reply was emphatic: "No."

    Having run away with the Premier League title last season without a recognised frontman for most of the campaign, there is clearly no panic for the City boss, who was without a number of his creative players in Saturday's Wembley defeat.

    Jack Grealish, who signed for a British record £100m on Thursday, made his debut as a second-half substitute while the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden are still to return to City's attack.

    The Spaniard said on Friday though that City are "open to negotiation" for Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who has a reported price tag of £160m.

    So do they need to smash the transfer record again to bring the England captain in?

    'City need top-quality striker to keep momentum'

    With the club's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero injured for most of last season, Guardiola often lined up without a striker, something that didn't do them too much harm as they finished Premier League top scorers.

    But with Aguero now at Barcelona and Gabriel Jesus understood to be unhappy, can Manchester City afford to again go into their title defence and Champions League assault short on real firepower?

    They were subdued in the final third in last season's Champions League final defeat by Chelsea, with suggestions a world-class striker may still be required for success in Europe.

    "Pep will be fuming with some of the senior players," former Manchester United captain Roy Keane said on ITV after Saturday's loss. "They threw the game away. He is a winner and he will be fuming.

    "They do have options in Sterling in the middle. But Pep will be thinking they need a top-quality striker to keep the momentum going with everything they want to achieve this season, with the Champions League and the Premier League."

    City may well encounter a stern test if they are to defend their title this season.

    Manchester United should be challenging after bringing in winger Jadon Sancho and defender Raphael Varane, while Chelsea are close to re-signing Romelu Lukaku for a mammoth £97.5m fee.

    When asked if Manchester City needed a striker, former Arsenal and England forward Ian Wright, said: "Yes they do. If any team can deal without a striker it is City, but how long can they do that? Look at Chelsea, Leicester, Manchester United – they have to do something in that regards.

    "Chelsea will push next season, they are serious players and – with Lukaku – will cause massive problems."

    Former England defender Matt Upson added on BBC Radio 5 Live: "They won the Premier League by sharing the goals around, with Ilkay Gundogan as top scorer with 13 goals. Can they achieve that again or are they going to go big on a centre forward?

    "They haven't worked Kasper Schmeichel. That says it all, the creativity in this squad isn't in doubt. The list goes on, it is just whether they go big on a centre forward who can get them 25 goals a season."

    Jack Grealish and Pep GuardiolaJack Grealish came on as a 65th-minute substitute for his Manchester City debut

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    'We were so good'

    There were extenuating circumstances to City's loss at Wembley as they were far from full strength – De Bruyne and Foden are injured, while Sterling and Jesus are still resting after featuring for their countries during the summer.

    A much-changed City team featured two teenagers in the starting line-up – midfielders Cole Palmer and Sam Edozie – as former striker Kelechi Iheanacho netted a last-minute penalty to give the Foxes a deserved win.

    Asked if they need to replace Aguero, Guardiola replied: "It depends if it is possible. If it is we do it, if not we go without a striker.

    "Tomorrow seven or eight players arrive back. That's why I guess at the beginning of the season we will try to get results without being at our best.

    "We know we will not be at our best but the players will be better next Sunday. That is the process we have to do."

    It remains to be seen whether a move for Kane comes off after the England striker said he has "never refused to train" for Tottenham and believing he has a gentleman's agreement with chairman Daniel Levy to leave this summer.

    Guardiola added: "With a little bit of luck and with better decisions in the final third we could have scored. We were so good. That is the first step to try again and compete this season.

    "I would have loved to win the game. Congratulations to Leicester for the victory, but the performance was really good. At this stage of the season, and to play the young guys, was excellent."

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