Ferran Torres underlined the depth in Manchester City’s squad with a match-winning display against Newcastle United on Friday night.
The Spain international scored a hat-trick at St James’ Park, which included an intuitive backheeled volley, to take his tally to 13 for the season in all-competitions.
Following another eye-catching display from a player whose impressive maiden campaign has somewhat fallen under the radar of the wider footballing audience, Pep Guardiola suggested that he could be a centre-forward option for the club.
Torres is a winger by trade but has a shrewd eye for goal inside the penalty area.
“Not just this evening, it’s his first season in England and his numbers are exceptional, in terms of goals, exceptional,” said Guardiola after the game.
“He came as a winger but I may have to think about playing him as a striker, because when we had Sergio and Gabriel injured and with COVID and he played as a striker always he was there, and he scored against Leeds, scored against Crystal Palace, in the period of time I didn’t give him minutes but he has the sense of goal and today that’s so important, so yeah very pleased.”
With Sergio Aguero set to depart the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires in June, the 21-year-old could represent an in-house replacement.
Guardiola clearly sees his potential to move into a central role, but who else could City consider, both internally and externally, to fill the void left by the Argentine?
GIVEMESPORT rank eight candidates in ascending order below:
8. Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez was linked with a move to City back in January.
The least high-profile name on this list plys his trade for Benfica and has amassed 14 goals and 11 assists in 41 games so far this season.
That’s an impressive record but not one befitting of a replacement for City’s all-time record goal scorer.
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7. Ferran Torres
An intriguing option but centre-forward doesn’t appear to be his natural position.
He’s an intelligent wide forward who will inevitably score on a consistent basis at City, but the club need a natural striker to replace Aguero.
6. Lautaro Martinez
Hernan Crespo compared Lautaro Martinez to Aguero back in 2020.
“Lautaro could well be the new Sergio Aguero. He’s not as sharp in his dribbling, but he is more of a team player than Kun, who too often gets distracted and looks disinterested.”
The Inter Milan star has scored 18 goals and provided nine assists this season.
At just 23 years of age, there’s a lot to like about the 19-cap Argentina international.
5. Kevin De Bruyne
Guardiola has largely deployed a false-nine system during City’s run to the Champions League final and Kevin De Bruyne has thrived in that role.
Though clearly far from a natural replacement for Aguero, the Belgium international has proven that City can compete with the best in world football with a makeshift forward.
4. Romelu Lukaku
As a former Man United player, Romelu Lukaku would be a controversial signing for City but rumours linking the two continue to persist across the media.
The colossal striker has been a pivotal player for Antonio Conte this season, scoring 23 goals and 10 assists to fire Inter to their first Serie A title since 2010.
There are question marks about how well aligned he is to Guardiola’s philosophy, but his all-round displays this season suggest he could thrive under the Spaniard.
3. Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus is now 24 years old and Aguero’s departure represents the ideal opportunity to give him a proper crack of the whip as City’s first-choice striker.
With the five-time Premier League winners boasting plenty of options to call upon in a false-nine role – De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez – as an alternative and Torres showing his worth, trusting in Jesus is a low-cost and relatively low-risk option for the club.
He deserves one full season to build his case following Aguero’s departure.
2. Erling Haaland
Arguably the most wanted man in Europe right now, Erling Haaland would be a sensational signing for City.
The club have been linked with him consistently since the turn of the year, and as a childhood City fan there is reason to suggest he’ll be tempted by a move to the Etihad Stadium.
At just 20 years of age, Haaland has amassed 50 goal contributions in 39 games for Borussia Dortmund across all competitions in 2020/21.
1. Harry Kane
This is a win-win for both parties.
Harry Kane wants to win trophies and has Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goal scoring record in his sights.
City, meanwhile, could do with a world-class striker to replace Aguero and are interested in the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer in 2020/21.
The only thing that threatens a potential deal from coming to fruition is Daniel Levy’s £150m asking price.