On transfer deadline day, Manchester City signed a new striker. Although, it’s not really quite as simple as that.
River Plate star Julian Alvarez is set to arrive in July for an initial £14.1million, although a run into the latter stages of the Copa Libertadores for Marcelo Gallardo’s side could push that arrival back as late as November.
Then there’s the issue of where exactly the 22-year-old Argentina international will play for the Premier League champions.
His compatriot and hero Sergio Aguero certainly failed to nail down that part of the equation down when discussing Alvarez’s qualities on a Twitch stream this week.
“I don’t know if Julian is going to get used to being a nine, I think he’s a freer player, as a midfielder, second striker or winger,” Aguero said.
Additionally, there is every chance that a player of Alvarez’s gifts will not end his City career where he starts it.
Gabriel Jesus provides plenty of parallels as a South American star who signed for City and remained with his club, Palmeiras in that instance, to pick up a league title before arriving in Manchester in January 2017.
Back then, Jesus was a striker who stunningly challenged Aguero’s position as City’s undisputed number one.
An injury – “muscular niggles”, according to Pep Guardiola, who happily fell back on what appears to be his current favorite word in the English language – means the Brazil international will not face Brentford on Wednesday night, but he has been reborn as a right-winger this season.
The only thing that is number nine about Jesus nowadays is his shirt number. Or is it?
“He’s a center forward, he can play there. Lately, he played wide where he is more comfortable, with the body shape more open,” Guardiola explained.
“But he is a young player and we encourage him. Even playing in central positions, he has to be more open with his body than him to see the actions clear.
“He can play in the three positions up front.”
This is a versatile trait he shares with Alvarez and Aguero, largely down to some of his early travails under Guardiola, knows this will stand the new man in good stead.
“The thing is that Pep doesn’t use forwards,” he said. “I was nine, but normally the coach didn’t want to do that and I didn’t play [last season]. He got used to it that way, it’s his tactics from him. I really don’t know where I could fit in right now.
“I would put him as a winger so that he adapts. It happens that Pep does not play with two strikers or with 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.”
So, Aguero sees a Jesus-style path for a man who was recently his international team-mate.
If that is the case, there is another Guardiola non-negotiable even more important than adaptability that he will have to master.
“We need players that are runners, who can help a lot in our high intensity and high pressing. He’s the best in the world, ”Pep said of Jesus ‘el’s capacity as a forward leading the defensive workload from the front.
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“Thanks to him we can stay high, we can be so aggressive. When he plays in that position he helps us to get extra rhythm for our midfield players and our back four can stay high for a long time.”
The ongoing example set by Jesus, combined with Aguero’s observations gives Alvarez a useful roadmap to success under Guardiola.
Whether that comes to pass as a striker or something a little bit different is anyone’s guess at this stage.
What role do you expect Julian Alvarez to play at City? Follow City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.