Pep Guardiola may already have his Sergio Aguero heir at Manchester City with Ferran Torres’ superb recent displays suggesting that he can step up as his long-term replacement at the Etihad.
The Spain international, who reportedly earns £46k per week at City, fired in a superb hattrick in Friday evening’s 4-3 win against Newcastle United, which takes his tally for the season to 13 in all competitions – an impressive return for his debut season.
The 21-year-old joined City from Valencia last summer and whilst he has been on the peripheral of Guardiola’s squad for much of the season, he has regularly found the back of the net when given a chance to start, and is now showing his worth in the Premier League, which suggests that he could be much more of a regular next season.
City are likely to be in the market for a new striker this summer when Aguero leaves the club, with it already confirmed that the legendary Argentine, who joined for £38m in 2011, will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Gabriel Jesus is currently the only senior striker in Guardiola’s squad and the Brazilian, whilst a top-quality player, has emphasised that he will perhaps never have the goalscoring instincts of someone like Aguero.
It has also been confirmed that 18-year-old Liam Delap will be a part of Guardiola’s squad next season after impressing with the academy sides, but it would be unrealistic to expect him to replace Aguero’s goals in this City side.
However, Torres’ performance against Newcastle emphasised that City might not need to delve into the transfer market and spend millions on someone like Erling Haaland or Romelu Lukaku this summer.
The youngster moved into a more central role in the second half and added to his remarkable backheeled flick goal in the first half with two poachers goals, first smashing home Jesus’ cross from the right, before volleying into the roof of the net after Joao Cancelo’s shot came off the post.
Following Torres’ hattrick at St James’ Park, Guardiola certainly hinted that he could have a future as a striker, saying:
“Not just this evening, of course this evening was important, but his first season in England and his numbers are exceptional. He came as a winger, but he has to think about (being) a striker. When Sergio, Gabriel were out, he was there. He scored against Leeds and Crystal Palace. He didn’t have many minutes, but when he played, he had a sense of goal.
“Yeah, he can be [a No 9]. We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively he has improved a lot. The game at Palace, he makes a turn [in his season] – so good. The movement he makes as a striker, for the [third] goal, it hits the bar and where it goes, he knew it.
“The smell, the strikers know, intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent and the first goal is fantastic. Very pleased.”
Therefore, with regular game time next season, there seems no reason why Torres can’t become a regular option up front for Guardiola, and perhaps step up as Aguero’s replacement, as his goalscoring instincts have been clear to see this season.