Names such as Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane have been thrown around loosely for several days, but instead of shelling out big money City could well find the perfect replacement on their books.
18-year-old Liam Delap, son of former Stoke City star Rory Delap, has enjoyed a superb season, which saw him net in his debut against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup.
Delap also made his Premier League bow against Leicester City earlier this season and has scored an impressive 20 goals in 15 games in the Premier League 2, he looks ready to challenge Gabriel Jesus next season and stands to save City a lot of money too.
Why does Delap make sense for City?
The club have been reportedly told that it will take a whopping £150m for Borussia Dortmund to sell Haaland this summer, while Kane would likely command a similar figure given Daniel Levy’s reluctance to sell Spurs’ talisman.
City have always been reluctant to overspend on players, a policy which saw them miss out on the likes of Harry Maguire and Jorginho.
Nevertheless, City’s strict transfer structure and intent to budget makes it unrealistic that they would break that policy just to bring one player in. Not to mention the fact finances will have been impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Haaland would be a nice addition to City’s squad, but he is a luxury that City don’t really need, similar to City deciding not to spend on a David Silva replacement. City promoted from within when Silva departed giving Foden and Ilkay Gundogan bigger roles, which has seen Gundogan produce his best season in front of goal.
City promoting from within
It feels likely that City will keep that same policy in place for an Aguero replacement by promoting Delap. Guardiola has already shown hints of his faith in the youngster by including the former Derby County youngster in first team games this year.
Delap has made three appearances in the Premier League this season and has made huge strides in his development since arriving at the club in 2019. The youngster is set to be training with Pep Guardiola’s team full-time next season, even if City manage to sign another striker this summer.
Delap will stay at the club rather than going out on loan, similar to what Guardiola did with Phil Foden at the start of his career.
Guardiola insisted that keeping Foden at the club and training everyday with the first team was better for him, a decision that proved fruitful as Foden signed a new deal and became an integral member of the squad. Like Foden, Delap may well take time to develop and may need time to play a smaller role at first, but City have the depth in place for that to happen.
It is easy to forget that Ferran Torres thrived playing in the number nine role, Ilkay Gundogan has enjoyed the best year of his career in front of goal, while Raheem Sterling is capable of filling in at the nine spot too. All three can support and provide cover to Jesus and Delap.
Haaland would be the marquee addition, but the quieter, in house option stands to be more effective as life without Aguero begins in June.