No Harry, no problem: 5 other strikers Man City should target if they miss out on Kane

You are currently viewing No Harry, no problem: 5 other strikers Man City should target if they miss out on Kane
  • Post published:August 25, 2021

Harry Kane probably wanted to be a Manchester City player by now. The England captain made a short cameo for Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, as the saga dragged on – and now it’s looking ever more likely that the transfer won’t come off.

But, curiously, it doesn’t look like Pep’s planning a backup option if he doesn’t land his top target. Reports have only really linked Kane with a move to the Etihad, with no other top strikers said to be joining City in the event of Kane not going.

That probably means that it’s Kane or no one for Pep. When they’ve not landed targets in the past, they’ve waited at least for one window, so it would be surprising if they were to go out and buy someone they hadn’t been linked with …

Still, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this summer, it’s to expect the unexpected. Look at Lionel Messi, after all. City may well pounce if a deal can be made for a quality striker late in the window.

Such is the nature of looking for a plan B for Harry Kane, most of your other potentials are going to be superstars. And with Manchester City having held reported interest in the past for Erling Haaland – plus a mad scramble next year for the Norwegian hitman, given that his ludicrously low £60-million release clause kicks in – City might bite the bullet and shell out for the Borussia Dortmund star now.

Haaland has the family links to City, since father Alfie used to play for them but, more importantly, he’s the same kind of physical, clinical presence as Kane. He’s got a long time left at the elite level and working under Pep Guardiola, he could learn so much.

The issue – if there is any – is around his personality. Erling Haaland is reportedly cold, quiet and though there have never been any apparent behavioural problems with the striker, he’s been compared with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who Pep massively fell out with at Barcelona. Guardiola doesn’t tend to get on with out-and-out strikers, preferring personalities of midfielders: it’s easy to see why he’d prefer someone a little less abrasive in Kane.

Could he get on with Haaland? Maybe City need that icier edge at the top of the pitch.

Robert Lewandowski
(Image credit: Getty)

Pep Guardiola has worked with Robert Lewandowski before. The only player who he’s ever brought from one of his clubs to another is Thiago Alcantara – but given Lewandowski’s recent admission that he’d like a new challenge, could Pep follow suit with the Pole?

Lewandowski may be getting older but he’s still a world-class goalscorer who would offer two or three years at the top. His movement is superb, his link-up play underrated, and he would relish testing himself abroad. The question would be whether he fulfils everything that Guardiola wants from a forward.

Bayern’s star man is no doubt an elite option up top who wouldn’t cost a bomb but, in Kane, Pep was targeting a world-class passer as well as a goalscorer. And would Bayern even sell? It would trigger them probably having to bring in Haaland, which they surely wouldn’t have the money for.

3. Ilaix Moriba

Since this is Manchester City, one of the striking options on the list has to be a midfielder, right?

Pep no doubt will make do with Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus, while Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan could all play up front in a pinch. But while he’s got enough options, another player available is Barcelona midfielder Ilaix Moriba, who’s apparently going for under £15m.

Guinean teen Moriba is a composed passer, superb at finding himself free in the half spaces and he could be brought into City this summer and worked into another false nine over the course of this season. The 18-year-old is affordable, got big potential and could provide adequate cover while the club are competing on four fronts.

Still, it’s not like Guardiola to buy kids just to polish into first-team stars. With the likes of Liam Delap already in the squad, he might not see the need to add another youngster – and it’s not exactly like Man City need to go bargain-sniffing. It’s a shame, though, as it would be nice to see Pep work with a few more recent La Masia products.

4. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe

(Image credit: PA)

Who doesn’t want to see Kylian Mbappe in the Premier League? Apart from defenders, of course.

Not only could City probably pick up the World Cup winner for less than Kane – given that he’s out of contract next summer – Mbappe has a lot of the qualities that Guardiola likes in a forward. He adapts his game depending on whether he’s playing left, right or centrally and he’s good in transition and in possession. Under Pep, Mbappe could maintain his superhuman goal output while improving his creativity.

Moves like this tend to be conjured longer than two weeks before the end of a transfer window, though. Just because Mbappe is available, it doesn’t mean that it would make sense to add a big ego to a side that already has stars, such as Bernardo Silva, who want to leave. And is Mbappe good enough on the ball to satisfy Pep?

Mbappe heading to City would be incredible and it’s difficult to see how it could be anything other than a success – but by targeting a profile completely different to Kane, Guardiola would have to rethink his entire frontline for the season. Plus, he wanted a proper No 9: Mbappe is a goalscorer but he arguably plays best on the left.

5. Alexander Isak

Alexander Isak has already signed a big contract extension this summer with Real Sociedad. The 21-year-old is not the finished product by any means and his new release clause is reportedly set at around £75m.

But that’s still cheaper than Kane for a striker who has many of the Spurs man’s best traits. He’s nearly two metres tall, aerially strong and his control and ability to play in others are excellent. Though he’s only young, he will no doubt develop into one of the best strikers in Europe in time – and Guardiola could bag him now before he’s out of reach.

City could easily prise him now from the Basque club – despite his new deal – ease him into the team this season and have Isak and Jesus competing for the No 9 spot in 12 months’ time. But given that Kane was No 1 on the agenda, there are better options on the market right now in the short term.

If City are content with not signing anyone as a replacement though, why not go for Isak?