Monday, December 6 2021

Pep Guardiola says he will not complain about the star-studded squad at his disposal despite admitting Manchester City have to sign a prolific striker in the coming years to succeed Sergio Aguero.

City’s bid to land England captain Harry Kane failed in the transfer window, with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy not willing to let his prized forward go.

Aguero left for Barcelona at the end of last season as City’s all-time record goalscorer and has not been replaced.

Instead, the Premier League champions broke the English transfer record in signing Jack Grealish for £100 million ($137 million) to add to an already glittering array of attacking midfield options for Guardiola.

Without a number nine, it has been feast or famine in front of goal for City so far this season.

They hit five past Norwich and Arsenal, going one better against Leipzig in their Champions League opener and when Wycombe visited the Etihad in the League Cup in midweek.

But they find themselves three points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United after failing to score in a 0-0 draw with Southampton last weekend and a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on the opening weekend of the season.

Guardiola rejected suggestions he prefers to operate without a centre-forward.

“Always I had strikers in my career,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Chelsea.

“Like goalkeepers, strikers are the biggest specialist position. I played with Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, (Lionel) Messi, (Robert) Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller, Sergio for a few years here.

“The club needs in the next years a striker. When it’s not possible, it’s not possible, we move on with the fantastic squad we have.”

Chelsea and United have both added prolific goalscorers — with Romelu Lukaku returning to Stamford Bridge and Cristiano Ronaldo arriving back at Old Trafford . Both players have scored four times for their new clubs.

Guardiola does not expect any of his players to individually match the two top-scorers in Serie A last season, but believes City can compete as a collective.

City have been top-scorers in the Premier League for each of the past four seasons.

“Strikers are strikers, but they are the most difficult players to take (from other clubs),” said Guardiola.

“We were privileged to have Sergio for many years. Unfortunately he was out injured last season and we survived without him. With him we knew we had something extra.

“We have two options: complaining or working with the exceptional players we have.

“We don’t have this weapon like United, Chelsea or Tottenham. We don’t have the player to score 25 goals, we have to do it as a team.”

kca/jw/pb

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