It seems ever more likely that Sergio Aguero’s Manchester City career is nearing its final stages.
The striker turns 33 this summer as he caps off an incredible decade with the Citizens, in which he has scored over 250 goals in less than 400 games. While the milestone anniversary and the running down of his contract aren’t indicators of a definite departure, it certainly signifies the necessity for City to identify and bring in his replacement – something club officials know all too well.
There have been several names linked with the role of Aguero’s heir and, despite recent rumours of Romelu Lukaku moving to the Etihad, it would appear that Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland is still firmly the number one target for the club.
And, it makes sense. Why? Well, let’s start with the obvious. He can score goals. A lot of goals.
Gabriel Jesus, who was previously hailed as the Aguero’s successor, was brought in as a relative unknown from Palmeiras in 2016 and, despite a record of 75 goals in 173 games, has since failed to hit the heights expected of him.
Erling Haaland is, however, by no means an unknown. The Norwegian would arrive at the Etihad with mammoth expectation but he has shown he can handle hype. He has a proven goal-scoring record which doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Since moving to the Bundesliga in January 2020, Haaland has bagged 27 goals in 30 appearances – constantly surpassing his expected goals numbers. Most impressively, however, is how he has taken to the highest level of club football. In November, he became the quickest player to hit 15 in Champions League history, doing so in just 12 games.
The departure of Aguero will, inevitably, leave a hole in the side and Manchester City as a club – the Argentine has managed 20 or more Premier League goals in six of his nine full seasons at the club and has become an institution. But, to fill the void, Haaland is as good a bet as any.
Aside form the obvious goal-scoring pedigree, the Norwegian international fits City’s style of play and would be destined to succeed. Defensively, Haaland is not afraid to press defenders. This season, he has managed around six final third presses per game and, while Aguero made eight per 90 last campaign, the BVB man, crucially, has a 32% success rate compared to the Argentine’s 25%.
And we all know his talents in attack. He is best known for his unbelievable ability in and around the 18-yard box – much like Aguero. The Dortmund striker has a breath-taking natural ability to find himself on defenders’ blind sides, while his acceleration and sharpness make quick movement easy for him.
And, for all Dortmund’s current defensive woes, their creative unit have brought the best out of Haaland. Players like Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna provide a fluidity and unpredictability to BVB’s attacking play which suits him. Dormund thrive off bringing wide players into play and moving the ball into channels to find players in the box – remind you of anything?
City have been ruthless with the same approach this season. Pep Guardiola’s wide men have all been influential in attacking phases and, while a fluid midfield helps move the opposition around, it’s the play in the channels which provide their cutting edge – as shown against Liverpool at Anfield.
While two of the goals were gifts from Alisson, all four – and the missed penalty in the first half – originated from wide areas and ended with clinical finishing close to goal. Haaland’s clinical nature combined with the Citizens’ creative set up is a frightening thought, and one that could dominate the Premier League for years.
The Norwegian is not a one trick pony, either. He is also capable of moving deeper and initiating attacking moves himself, as we have seen Guardiola do with his number nines this season. While Jesus lacks a bit of urgency in these situations, Haaland has the pace, power and drive to trouble his opposition, while also possessing the ability to bring teammates into play, as shown by this goal against RB Leipzig earlier in the season.
Haaland also has a previous link to Manchester City. His father, Alf-Inge, played for the club for three years during his time in England, and Haaland Jr even supported City growing up – making a move make even more sense.
In conclusion, Haaland has the proven record to succeed Aguero at the Etihad, and would fit into Pep’s tactical ethos. Throw in a bit of family nostalgia, and what’s not to like? City are also in a rare financial position of being able to pursue a player of his quality in the summer – and would be absolutely right to do so.