The last time Manchester City signed a first-team striker was back in 2016.
City's new signing, Julian Alvarez. pic.twitter.com/qi6jSEg9Pu
— Tareq (@MadridProp) February 1, 2022
Gabriel Jesus was the player in question but if you consider that he now sees himself more as a winger, then you’d have to go all the way back to Wilfried Bony – before Pep Guardiola took over – for the last occasion a centre forward joined the City squad.
Now with Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, the Ivorian’s career has slowly gone downhill, while City have continued to flourish.
An obvious reason for that relative lack of action in the transfer market was that City were already loaded with a prime Sergio Aguero as their deadly frontman.
As the club’s greatest ever striker, as well as the fourth-leading goalscorer in Premier League history, it was virtually impossible to find anyone better.
OFICIAL: El Manchester City ha cerrado el traspaso de Julián Álvarez. ✍️
— Manchester City (@ManCityES) January 31, 2022
Another argument for City’s reluctance to sign a striker up to now is that Guardiola has been able to restructure his side to be just as dangerous without an out-and-out frontman.
Playing with a false nine, two interchangeable false nines or a midfield stand-in, Guardiola has propelled City to the top of the Premier League on the back of a title success last season.
But the City boss has always wanted the option of a striker and when Aguero left in the summer on the back of a campaign severely disrupted by illness and injury, replacements were identified.
Harry Kane could not be prised away from Tottenham, flirtations with Cristiano Ronaldo came to nothing and rather than make a panic buy, City went into the campaign without an orthodox No.9.
"I have said when Julián [Álvarez] played on the right he was the best #9 that River Plate has. Now time has passed and #ManCity bought him."
— City Report (@cityreport_) February 1, 2022
A seven-year interval without a forward signing came to an end on the final day of the January transfer window when City bought Argentina international Julian Alvarez for £14 million ($18m) from River Plate.
However, it will be a little bit longer before he’s part of Guardiola’s squad, with the 22-year-old remaining with the Buenos Aires club until July at least.
Certainly, there is great excitement about a signing who has drawn inevitable comparisons with Aguero due to a combination of his nationality and a squat, aggressive playing style, as well as his goalscoring capabilities.
Man City's 2021/22 January Transfer Window:
◉ Julian Alvarez (£15m)
◎ Ferran Torres (£46m)
◎ Taylor Harwood-Bellis (loan)
◎ Tommy Doyle (loan)
◎ Patrick Roberts (£3m)
◎ Luka Ilic (£3m)
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) February 1, 2022
Alvarez, who scored 18 times to become the Primera Division’s top scorer last season, idolises Aguero and has since followed him into the national team.
There is a belief that Alvarez could break into the City first team next season but there remains the possibility that he could stay in Argentina longer or else join a City Football Group sister club.
“We firmly believe he’s one of the best young attacking players in South America,” director of football Txiki Begiristain said.
“I am so happy we have managed to bring him to Manchester City. I really believe we can provide him with the right conditions to fulfil his potential and become a top player.”
Alvarez celebrated his 22nd birthday as the deal went through and a five-and-a-half-year contract suggests City are thinking long-term with this transfer.
Signed by Manchester City and spending quality time at Argentina national team camp.
Life is good for Julian Alvarez right now ? pic.twitter.com/O67zKSoNHf
— GOAL (@goal) February 1, 2022
As South America’s Player of the Year, a host of European clubs were linked with him, including Real Madrid where he had already spent two years as an academy player, but whom he couldn’t join because of age rules.
Moving back to Argentina, he was part of the River Plate side that won the Copa Libertadores in 2018 against bitter rivals Boca Juniors and has since made rapid progress.
But a relatively low-key signing announcement, with no in-house interviews and little fanfare, shows he is a signing for the future.
Man City confirm the signing of Argentinian forward Julian Alvarez.
Aguero 2.0? ? pic.twitter.com/aztIOCOUa5
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 31, 2022
The deal is not expected to have an impact on plans to make a major signing at the end of the season after City missed out on finding Aguero’s replacement last summer.
Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland remains a top target but, after another 16 goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances this season, competition for the Norway international is only set to intensify.
With a release clause believed to be between £62m ($84m) and £84m ($112m), most European superclubs will be interested, even if the 21-year-old has high wage demands.
Real Madrid are seen as a major rival for Haaland, with sources suggesting that he may prefer a move to La Liga at this stage of his career.
However, a move to the Spanish capital might be difficult if reports of a huge agreement between Real and Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe are correct.
Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola has confirmed the Etihad Stadium as a possible destination, while his father Alf-Inge knows all about City, having spent three years there as a player and taken Erling to matches regularly when he was growing up.
There will also be a shortlist of alternatives, with Benfica’s Darwin Nunez and Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix understood to have been watched.
However, there is a clear pathway for Alvarez to prove himself for the Premier League champions and an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Aguero.