Stevan Jovetic is far, far too good to be dismissed for his perceived “lack of goals.” And it’s often for those numbers that people fail to recognise what he is. Jovetic is up among the best in Europe for creating chances, but he’s not a creative midfielder. The Montenegrin will score goals if he plays in the most advanced forward role, but he’s not a striker. That rare breed of footballer that falls somewhere in between is the best way to describe Manchester City’s new signing.
Pellegrini likes to keep his options open. At Villarreal he alternated between Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar as a centre-forward pairing and going with the single striker. At Malaga, he found use for both Roque Santa Cruz and Javier Saviola in much the same way, with the returning Julio Baptista offering another outlet.
In addition to Jovetic, Manchester City have just spent £24million on a striker they already have, and one who is persistent in his frustration over a lack of minutes. There isn’t too much between Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko, despite the latter already being up to speed with the Premier League, but that won’t be too much of a problem considering the Spaniard’s style and build.
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With Jovetic in the squad too, Pellegrini has the option of going for creative flair and the stylistic approach that is surely desired at the Etihad, or the far more direct approach with one of the best out-and-out wingers in Europe in Jesus Navas. With the wealth of options available to him, you better believe Pellegrini will know how to get the best out of them.
Last season under Roberto Mancini, City’s attack was stale, predictable and lacking the ruthlessness that should be associated with a defending champion. The Italian lost Mario Balotelli in January and Sergio Aguero drifted in and out with injury. Even Carlos Tevez, the once overly reliable source of Premier League goals, dropped off to record a total of 11.
Revamping the forward line was as much a priority as bringing in a new manager. There is a vast array of combinations. Aguero, still marked as the team’s best striker, needs a partner. His best days in England came when paired with compatriot Tevez. They collectively had the movement, the quickness of thought and the pedigree, despite their small stature, to lead City’s counteroffensive against Manchester United.
In Jovetic, there is the option for a similar two-man strike force. The Montenegrin star knows what it means to be the focal point of a team, as he was two seasons ago when Fiorentina came dangerously close to relegation. A combination of Aguero and Jovetic will allow City to play; breaking at pace, slicing open defences and offering an uncertainty to opposition backlines as to where the primary threat will come from.
Negredo, like his new teammates, is where he deserves to be. The former Sevilla striker may have been unable to use his 25 goals last season to land Champions League football for the Andalusian side, but there are wider factors at play in that matter. Negredo, while the jury may be out as to whether he can be a no.1 striker to lead a title challenger, will unquestionably add a lot to an attacking unit already boasting such quality.
Again, Negredo can be paired with either of Aguero or Jovetic to form a contrast of styles, with the Spaniard taking on the role of the furthest forward of the two. He thrives in the box, and has used the supply line of Jesus Navas at Sevilla to great effect over the years. The addition of the winger only allows for an even stronger attacking core, with City often bereft of natural width following the sale of Adam John.
The diversity on offer at the Etihad stadium makes City’s attack the most formidable in the league. Each one is out to prove a point: Jovetic that his move away from Florence and to a Champions League side was justified; Negredo that he deserves to be in Spain’s World Cup squad next summer; Dzeko that he’s more than just a super sub; and Aguero that he can bounce back from a forgettable sophomore year in England.
For City, these are the calibre of striker that will transform the club’s fortunes in the Champions League.
Will City’s new strike force take the club to the next level, both domestically and in Europe?
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