Things are pretty rosy at the Etihad Stadium right now. Fresh from a campaign where a fourth Premier League title in five years, there is a lot to be ecstatic about prior to the new season, which kicks off in early August.
Therefore, It seems almost churlish to suggest that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad, as dominant as they have been in the domestic game, could have any areas that needed addressing, but the lack of an out-and-out striker that can ably see off the strongest opposition was perhaps one such issue that needed addressing.
Therefore the signing of Norwegian youngster Erling Haaland could be the game-changer that Guardiola has been after for the better part of 18 months. The City coach had made a move for Tottenham goal machine Harry Kane last summer but failed to convince the North London side to sell.
That didn’t stop City from racking up an astounding tally of 150 goals in all competitions in 2021/22, and that total is down in no small part due to the sheer weight of numbers Guardiola has in terms of goal-scoring options from out wide or from his midfield. Now, with Haaland on board, he has an embarrassment of riches for the season ahead and years to come.
Hit the Ground Running
Given his pedigree, we are talking about a 21-year-old who has bagged 86 goals in 89 appearances during his time at Borussia Dortmund; Haaland is ready-made to do damage in the Premier League.
Anyone with a penchant for football betting might want to consider placing a wager on City collecting a raft of trophies, and one of those may well, at long last, come in the form of the Champions League variety.
Haaland is more than proven at the Champions League level, scoring 23 goals in just 19 appearances in the competitions, netting on average every 64 minutes. Having that kind of a cutting edge to spearhead their attack is something that Pep Guardiola has been crying out for since Sergio Aguero’s effectiveness became blunted towards the end of his sterling career at the club.
The strongly built forward is also ideal for Premier League action and isn’t afraid to get rough with defences, and is sure to be a player that picks up more than his fair share of yellows and reds.
As well as signing Haaland the Premier League champions have already wisely purchased Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips to offer some additional steel and guile to the centre of the park.
This move may well be due to the departure of Fernandinho and also gives Guardiola more homegrown talent to add to his squad. Phillips is a great combative option to call upon though he will struggle to push his way into the first-team set-up given the likes of Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan in front of him.
As far as departures go, City have thus far seen Gabriel Jesus leave for Arsenal and could well sell Raheem Sterling to Chelsea. These two deals aren’t ideal, but it appears Guardiola sees little reason to stand in the way of two players looking for more consistent first-team action.
What Can Be Achieved in 2022/23
It’s likely that next season will be more of the same in terms of the Premier League being a two-horse race between City and Liverpool but expect Chelsea and even Man United to mount more of a concerted push.
Guardiola is clearly very focused on securing Champions League glory, but the good news is that Man City are certainly not miles away from such an achievement. Over the course of the last five seasons, they’ve reached the quarter-finals, or further, every year.
What is interesting about that stat is that on three of those five occasions, it was fellow Premier League teams that knocked them out, which goes some way to showing the dominance the English top-tier has across Europe right now.
With able replacements in every position and more besides, Guardiola’s squad is perhaps the best in world football, and that means that even a lengthy injury or two won’t prove fatal to their hopes and with Haaland to call upon for an end product, you can expect a trophy or two come the end of next May.