Why Manchester City’s move for Alvarez could indicate they won’t try and sign Kane or Haaland next summer

Our reporter explains why the evidence suggest Manchester City won’t move for a centre-forward in the coming windows.

In more ways than one, Manchester City’s imminent signing of Julian Alvarez is a nod to the long-term plans of the club and manager Pep Guardiola.

The 21-year-old is expected to sign for the Premier League champions before the end of the week, and subsequently be loaned back to his current employers River Plate, with the attacker viewed as a star for the future rather than now.

Alvarez ended last season playing predominantly as a central striker but the Argentina international also operates on the right and has played on the left flank. He’s also capable of lining up in a slightly deeper role and is adept in possession as well as being a clinical finisher.

City missed out on Kane last summer. Credit: Getty.

City have, of course, been linked with a number of strikers in recent months, namely Harry Kane, Eric Haaland and Dusan Vlahovic. But the aforementioned trio differ from Alvarez in that they prefer to lead the line, stay central and play on the last shoulder, although Kane is also known to drop deep on occasion.

But that traditional style of centre-forward is not something that has been hugely associated with Guardiola and his time in England. In fact, the only traditional No.9 the Catalan has ever signed at the Etihad, Gabriel Jeus, has now been converted into a player who more often plays out wide.

When Sergio Aguero missed the majority of last season through injury, Guardiola’s solution was to adapt his system into one that operates without a striker, and it’s worked wonders over the last 12 months.

Guardiola opted not to replace Aguero last summer, continue with his striker-less system this season and even allowed Ferran Torres, perhaps the one player who came closest to a centre-forward in his squad, to leave in January.

Does Pep Guardiola really want to sign a striker in the summer? Credit: Getty.

Really, there’s nothing to suggest the City manager wants a traditional striker, and even the decision to pursue Kane last summer came after a campaign where he regularly dropped deep, an unconventional habit for a No.9, and no-one registered more Premier League assists last season than the England captain.

But whether Kane is an option again this summer is unknown, and speculation that he could move to City has dropped markedly since the unsuccessful transfer saga last year.

And if not Kane, then who? Vlahovic looks set to join Juventus and recent reports suggest Haaland is more likely to join Real Madrid due to their higher wage offer. It all suggests that maybe Guardiola doesn’t really want a striker, doesn’t think his side need one.

Had he really wanted Kane, City would surely have prioritised his signature last summer over another attacking midfielder in Jack Grealish. If Guardiola really wanted Vlahovic, would City not have moved for him this window? And if Haaland is a genuine target, surely the Blues would be willing to offer him the same salary as Real?

Then there’s the other areas that need to be addressed in this team - yes, there really are some. City have operated for almost all this season with just three full-backs and at times John Stones and Nathan Ake have had to fill in, in the wide areas. Additionally, Fernandinho is expected to leave at the end of the season meaning City will need to find a replacement in the holding role.

Therefore, it actually seems more likely Gurdiola will invest in defence and midfield ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, a view that Alvarez’s signing only strengthens.