Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City may promote from within rather than sign an expensive, high-profile replacement for their outgoing record goalscorer Sergio Agüero this summer.
This week it emerged that Agüero, who has scored 257 times for the club, is to leave the Etihad Stadium when his contract runs out in June. That prompted a flurry of rumours, suggesting that Erling Haaland has been joined on Guardiola’s shopping list by Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé, but City’s manager endeavoured to dampen such speculation on Friday.
“There is a lot of big chances that maybe we are not going to sign a striker for next season,” said Guardiola before the Premier League leaders’ trip to Leicester on Saturday evening. “We have enough players in the first team right now and we have interesting players in the academy.
“There is a big chance, with the situation in the world, the economic problems in world football, we are not going to sign any striker for next season.”
Whoever ends up taking Agüero’s place in Guardiola’s squad will have sizeable boots to fill. “We know how important a player he is in the present and was in the past; these decisions are never easy,” said City’s quadruple-chasing manager as he reflected on his emotional impending parting of the ways with the 32-year-old. “Maybe we could find a new player to replace Sergio in terms of numbers but it is almost impossible to replace him in terms of what he means to this club.”
Leicester’s former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho may have a point to prove on Saturday. The Nigerian has scored seven goals in his past four games for Brendan Rodgers’ side and Guardiola seemed delighted by his progress since departing Manchester four years ago.
“Incredible,” he said. “The quality was there. He was a young player here and I think with Gabriel [Jesus] we didn’t have enough space. He is a fantastic person, we had a good relationship, and I’m glad to see him playing well.”