Man City's forward options after missing out on Kane

Pep Guardiola needs Gabriel Jesus to finally step up now Sergio Aguero has gone, trust in Ferran Torres as his false nine or pull the trigger on 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo – Man City’s forward options after missing out on Kane

  • Manchester City failed to sign their No 1 striker target Harry Kane this summer 
  • Pep Guardiola will now have to trust in Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres up front 
  • City have also been linked with a move for Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Guardiola could also return to his false nine system if he fails to sign a striker 

Harry Kane won’t be making the move to Manchester this summer, leaving Pep Guardiola with a dilemma.

The Manchester City boss wanted to sign a striker this summer to replace Sergio Aguero but has now missed out on his No 1 target and he turned down the chance to sign Lionel Messi. 

So, what does he do now? Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly an option, with the Juventus forward looking for a new challenge and reports on Thursday claimed he has already agreed personal terms with City.

Pep Guardiola is short of striking options after failing to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham

The former Manchester United man would be a significantly cheaper alternative than Kane and would provide a short-term solution to City’s striking vacancy. 

With Gabriel Jesus the only out and out centre forward at the club, the City boss may be forced to utilise his false nine system – which he used to great effect last season.

Sportsmail takes a look at the options available to Guardiola with less than a week to go until the end of the transfer window.

The Brazilian is yet to prove he can fill Aguero’s shoes and it was telling that Guardiola preferred using a false nine system in the club’s biggest games last season.

The striker managed 14 goals in all competitions last term, but only one came against a top six club.

The 24-year-old started on the bench for the opening game defeat against Tottenham but played 90 minutes in the 5-0 victory over Norwich and grabbed two assists.

Jesus would have found himself further down the pecking order had Kane arrived and the collapse of that move could give him a boost going into the rest of the campaign.

But he still has a lot to prove and will have to get on the scoresheet quickly to convince Guardiola he can be the main man this season. Now is the time to step up.

Gabriel Jesus still has to prove he can fill Sergio Aguero’s shoes and be the main striker

Ferran Torres

After a positive debut season and an impressive Euro 2020 campaign, there are hopes Ferran Torres can blossom into a great player at the Etihad.

Though he is yet to score this season, he was one of the brighter players against Spurs and forced an own goal from Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul in the following game. 

He has started both league matches so far, which is perhaps an indication Guardiola will continue to turn to him in the absence of another striker.

Gary Neville talked up the possibility of Torres being moulded into City’s main centre forward on Sky’s Monday Night Football.

Ferran Torres has started the first two games of the season in the centre forward role

The pundit said: ‘I thought he has been outstanding in the past few months. He’s a different player, obviously, through the Euros, he’s someone that I think will be made into the centre-forward for City, he is already, but I think he can do really well.

‘He’s a completely different physical specimen to what he was last season, he looked like he couldn’t run at full power or at full speed. It takes a bit of time sometimes to pick up Pep Guardiola’s system and way of players.

‘If they don’t get Harry Kane this week and we’re talking about City not having a centre-forward, Ferran Torres looks like a real player.’

Raheem Sterling 

Raheem Sterling reminded Guardiola the threat he can provide as a centre forward by coming off the bench to score against Norwich.

Sterling scored four goals in the six games he started as a striker last season. In comparison, the forward scored eight goals in 33 games on the left, one in eight games on the right and one as an attacking midfielder.

With competition for places in the wide areas this season, Sterling could find himself used in the centre forward position more often – and he has shown he can produce in that position. 

Sterling will be keen to continue where he left off in the summer after netting three times for England at the Euros. 

Raheem Sterling reminded Guardiola the threat he can provide as a centre forward by coming off the bench to score against Norwich

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Could we really see Ronaldo sign for blue half of Manchester? 

Reports in Portugal on Thursday suggested the 36-year-old has agreed personal terms ahead of a sensational move to the Premier League champions.

His future at Juventus has been cast into doubt this summer and his agent Jorge Mendes flew to meet the Serie A giants’ bosses to discuss a resolution this week.

But now reports in the Portugal international’s home country suggest he has already spoken with Guardiola, and that the Italian side are now in talks with the Premier League champions about letting him leave three years after he joined. 

The forward’s goalscoring record speaks for itself and he would undoubtedly guarantee Guardiola’s side a regular goalscoring source.  

City have been linked with a move for Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who is seeking a new challenge

Pep’s false nine experiments:

Bernardo Silva

There was talk Bernardo Silva could have been heading to Spurs as part of a deal for Kane, but the 27-year-old reportedly rejected that proposal.

Now, Silva will be expected to contribute to City’s goal tally, as he has done for the past three seasons. 

The Portuguese has regularly been used in the false nine by Guardiola, though the majority of his goals last season came from playing in the attacking midfield position.

Silva played in a deeper role against Norwich and will perhaps see others preferred in the forward position this term. 

Bernardo Silva has previously played as a false nine but most of his goals came from midfield

Phil Foden 

Phil Foden’s most memorable game in the false nine came in the 4-1 victory over Liverpool, which saw him score and assist at Anfield. 

Like Silva, most of Foden’s goals came when he was playing in his more natural position – on the left of a front three.

Foden scored nine from the left and two while playing as a centre forward.

The England international is currently injured, but his return will provide a significant boost for Guardiola and will present him with another attacking option. 

With Jack Grealish, who also plays on the left, having arrived for £100m earlier this summer, Foden may find himself playing more centrally when he returns from injury. 

Phil Foden scored twice while playing as a false nine but most of his goals came from the left

Kevin De Bruyne

Few expected Kevin De Bruyne to be used as a false nine as often as he was last season but the Belgian was impressive when deployed there.

A notable performance came in the 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge while Guardiola also played him there in the Champions League.

In fact, this proved to be his most effective position in terms of scoring goals, with the 30-year-old netting four times as a centre forward, three as an attacking midfielder and two as a central midfielder.

De Bruyne may be the one Guardiola turns to more if he opts not to play Torres or Jesus in the striking role – and the midfielder has shown he is more than capable of stepping up to the task. 

The majority of Kevin De Bruyne’s goals last season came when playing in the false nine role

Riyad Mahrez

We are perhaps unlikely to see Riyad Mahrez used as a false nine regularly this term.

The Algerian played two games as a centre forward last season and failed to score, with 14 goals all coming from the right wing.

That is where Guardiola played Mahrez in the opening two games as well as the Community Shield and he seems to be further down the pecking order when it comes to false nine options. 

Riyad Mahrez has proved more effective on the right wing and failed to score as a false nine last season

Ilkay Gundogan 

Though Ilkay Gundogan was regularly down as a central midfielder on City’s team sheets last season, the Germany international was given the freedom to roam further forward.

That is why he ended the season as the club’s top scorer with 17 goals in all competitions.

Gundogan often ended up in the false nine, despite starting the game in midfield – and Guardiola will likely look to use the 30-year-old in a similar role this season.

Ilkay Gundogan played as a false nine but was also given freedom when he started in midfield

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