With Man City on the verge of a fourth Premier League title in five seasons, the prospect of Pep Guardiola’s side strengthening even further for the 2022/23 season won’t be welcome news for fans of any other side with ambitions of challenging for the league title.
But the signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland – in addition to the January acquisition of Argentine striker and reigning South American Footballer of the Year Julian Alvarez – will be cause for concern when the new season gets underway in early August.
Since arriving in Manchester, Guardiola has built a side that has set a standard never before seen in English football, and although Man City have struggled to replicate their domestic success on the European stage, there can be no doubting how impressive City’s domestic dominance has been since 2018.
Even with Liverpool having risen to the challenge, also performing at an astonishingly high level for most of the last four seasons, City would still be considered by most to be the country’s top team – and there are no signs that the situation is set to change in the short term.
The strengthening of their attack addresses what is, peculiarly, one of the weakest areas of Man City’s team. For despite the huge number of goals scored each year, City haven’t always been able to count on a reliable goalscorer in their ranks under Guardiola, especially since the departure of the prolific Sergio Aguero, the club’s record goalscorer, albeit a player whose fitness restricted appearances during his latter years on Manchester.
Man City’s top scorer in the league last season was Ilkay Gundogan with 13 goals. Raheem Sterling was the only other player to reach double figures. Three players have so far managed the feat this time around, and before Kevin DeBruyne’s four-goal haul at Wolves in midweek, the club’s leading scorer in the Premier League, Raheem Sterling, had just 12 goals to his name.
For a team that is on course to be the league’s highest scorers for the fifth consecutive season, it may not point to a big problem that goals are distributed throughout the team.
But there have been numerous cases each season of Man City dropping points in games that have been otherwise completely dominated, many of which have seen huge numbers of goalscoring chances created but not converted. A striker of Haaland’s quality will unquestionably help to reduce the number of points dropped due to wasteful finishing.
And, perhaps even more significantly, his record in the Champions League might just help Man City to get over the line they’ve been so desperate to cross since appointing Pep Guardiola – a two-time Champions League winner with Barcelona.
Since his breakthrough season in the competition with RB Salzburg, Haaland has set a number of new goalscoring benchmarks, and will be a huge asset in Man City’s quest for an elusive Champions League title.
So, while this season has seen Liverpool reach another level under Jurgen Klopp, and Newcastle potentially having access to a level of funds which could shortly see them competing amongst the top clubs both at home and abroad, the story of the next season or two may instead be about Man City continuing to demonstrate why they are considered one of the world’s very best football teams.