Manchester City were at their best attacking against Manchester United on Sunday, sticking four goals past their arch-rivals to win the Manchester derby at a canter.
Of course, the success of Pep Guardiola’s side in front of goal has brought a familiar debate back under the spotlight: do City need to sign a striker in the summer?
In isolation, the stats suggest not; 68 goals scored in 28 league games does not scream of a team that needs a goalscorer. However, to most – Guardiola included – it seems obvious that signing an elite striker would only improve what is already an incredible team.
“The club needs a top striker and we’re going to try in the summer,” Guardiola said last week. “We’re not going to buy one if they’re not going to give us something special.”
That commitment to only bring in someone at the truly elite level suggests that City will do all they can to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
City are believed to be roughly neck-and-neck with Real Madrid in the race to sign the 21-year-old, with Barcelona also trying to get in on the act.
Over recent weeks it was widely reported that City had stolen an advantage on Madrid – who look destined to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season – although the latest update from The Athletic’s David Ornstein has muddied the waters again.
He has reported that “City are thought to be unwilling for the situation to drag on much beyond the timescale indicated by Haaland’s camp and, if that happens, it is anticipated they will explore other options.”
It therefore appears that if City can’t come to a swift agreement with Haaland’s camp over wages and agent fees, then they will move on. Some may be shocked by City’s willingness to potentially walk away from negotiations, but the Blues’ performance against United on Sunday showed exactly why they can afford to do that.
There is absolutely no reason City should have to bend over backwards for either Haaland or his representatives.
Yes, the Norwegian star is an elite striker, but City have some of the best players in the world playing under one of the greatest coaches of all time. No transfer target should be the be-all and end-all.
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If Haaland is struggling to make up his mind between joining City or Real Madrid, then perhaps City should take that as a cue to duck out of the whole affair.
Excellent coaching and talented individuals aside, what makes City so good is the togetherness and spirit of the group. Every player wants to be there and is willing to fight for every ball – that was evident when five City players hounded Jadon Sancho when the United man looked to break forward towards the end of Sunday’s game.
Haaland should want to join City. If he doesn’t, or isn’t sure, then the Premier League champions can confidently look elsewhere.
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