Julian Alvarez: Man City may need to repeat last summer’s transfer approach to block £68m exit

Julian Alvarez has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid and PSG.Julian Alvarez has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid and PSG.
Julian Alvarez has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid and PSG. | Getty Images
The forward has a unique position in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad and preventing his departure might be seen as a necessity.

As another summer beckons for Manchester City, the Blues are once again expected to face interest in several of their key players.

Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish are among the important members of Pep Guardiola’s squad who could move on this window, but in previous days, reports of interest in another player have emerged.

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Marca claimed on Tuesday that Julian Alvarez is a target for Atletico Madrid following a mixed season in Manchester. The Spanish outlet reported that while ‘no official communication’ has begun, the process of trying to extract Alvarez from City ‘is already underway’.

The offer of more guaranteed minutes is said to be at the heart of Atletico’s approach, with the Argentinian already sounded out by several of his international team-mates. Meanwhile, the ever-eager Fabrizio Romano added an update on Wednesday night, and stated that Paris Saint-Germain are also keen on Alvarez, along with clubs from England. 

Reports from TBR Football have since claimed the City star is a target for Chelsea, while Argentinian reporter Veronica Brunati wrote on X that Alvarez has not requested to be sold, while a bid of around €80m (£68m) would be needed to sign the player, funds only PSG have.

This isn’t the first time Alvarez has been linked with an exit. Indeed, the 24-year signed a new contract at the Etihad in March 2023 - just nine months after his arrival from River Plate - in order to quell any thoughts of a summer exit.

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A year on, and Alvarez still feels like a player whose role is ill defined. Is he a striker or midfielder? A starter or back-up? Is he a leading Premier League star or a player still developing?

As per Transfermark, Alvarez played 10+ games last season respectively as a centre-forward, second striker and attacking midfielder. He also started 39 games but was named on the bench on 20 occasions. As for his performances, Alvarez ended the campaign with three goals and no assists from his last 13 games, having previously provided 29 goal involvements from the previous 41 appearances.

It’s no coincidence that Alvarez’s best form came in the first half of the campaign when both De Bruyne and Erling Haaland struggled with respective injuries. There’s no denying that the World Cup winners plays second fiddle when City’s two star men are fit and available, that’s before Phil Foden enters the equation.

Yet he’s also a player Guardiola has come to rely on and no-one played more games for City last season than Alvarez. “For his age, for the numbers in the Premier League, for what he gives to the team, he is unbelievable," the City boss said in January.

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"He's a world champion playing alongside [Leo] Messi, [Ángel] Di María and Enzo Fernández. If you are not good you cannot play in that team. He can play in three different positions and he has an incredible sense with the intensity to run. He's really good."

Regardless of those complimentary remarks, the club’s policy on selling players is clear. If the offer is deemed fair and the player wants to leave, City won’t stand in their way. The departures of Cole Palmer, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres underline this.

But there are occasions when the club will intervene to persuade a player to remain, as was the case with Silva and Kyle Walker last summer. Both could have departed, but after experienced professionals Ilkay Gundogan, Aymeric Laporte and Mahrez exited, there was a concern that too many established first-teamers could leave in one window.

That might be an issue once again this year, especially if Silva is granted a move 12 months on, while De Bruyne is now actively encouraging approaches from Saudi Arabia. There’s simply no way City would allow all three to leave in the same summer and Alvarez’s valuation could also be a stumbling block for any would-be pursuers given he’s 24 and has four years remaining on his deal at the Etihad.

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It would be a complicated, yet not impossible transfer to complete, and any prospect of an Alvarez exit seems implicitly tied to the futures of Silva and De Bruyne.

Should he remain, 2024/25 could prove a pivotal season for City’s no.19, one where he can more clearly define his role in Guardiola’s team. A strange scenario for a player who somehow feels crucial and yet also dispensable.

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