Pep Guardiola claims it would be “impossible” for Manchester City to sign a big-money replacement striker for Sergio Aguero this summer.
The City boss has even suggested the club may not bring in a new centre forward at all.
The announcement this week that Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, is to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season has intensified speculation linking the club with Borussia Dortmund’s prolific Erling Haaland.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe of Paris St Germain have also been mentioned but all three could command a fee well over £100million.
Guardiola feels that is just not realistic in the current climate.
“Listen, with these prices we are not going to sign any striker,” said the City boss, who has coped well enough without a specialist centre forward for large parts of this season already, with Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both having fitness problems.
“We are not going to sign any striker, it’s impossible – we cannot afford it. It’s impossible. That’s not going to happen, no.
“All the clubs struggle financially and we are not an exception. We have Gabriel and Ferran (Torres), who played incredible in this position this season.
“We have young players in the academy and we have played many times with a false nine.
“I don’t know what will happen. Maybe we are going to buy one but maybe maybe we are not going to buy any striker for the next season. Today there is more chance we are not going to buy any striker.”
Aguero, 32, has scored 257 goals for City since joining the club 10 years ago but his past season has been ravaged by injury and illness.
With the team – who are chasing an unprecedented quadruple this season – developing without him, a decision was made not to renew his contract when it expires at the end of the season.
Guardiola admits this was a tough call for the club.
“We know how important a player he is in the present and was in the past,” Guardiola said. “These decisions are never easy.
“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.”
Premier League leaders City are set to come up against an in-form striker in their former player Kelechi Iheanacho as they return to action after the international break at Leicester on Saturday.
The Nigerian, who left City in 2017, has scored seven goals in his last four games for the third-placed Foxes.
“Incredible,” said Guardiola when asked about Iheanacho at his pre-match press conference. “The quality was there.
“He was a young player (here) but with Gabriel and Sergio we didn’t have much space. He is a fantastic person. We had a good relationship. I’m delighted it’s going well lately.”
City need 14 points to mathematically secure the title but Guardiola is well aware of the dangers of Leicester, who won 5-2 at the Etihad Stadium in September.
He said: “Since Brendan Rodgers took over the team they have been incredible. Last season they had an incredible chance to qualify for the Champions League and they are in an incredible position again.
“They are a serious team, a contender every season, with a top manager and top players. It is a big challenge for us.”
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