Man City’s three roster options if they don’t complete Harry Kane transfer – .

Man City’s three roster options if they don’t complete Harry Kane transfer – .

Manchester City are heading towards their Premier League curtain-raiser in a special situation.
All summer, City continued to sign Spurs and England striker Harry Kane, but on Sunday afternoon they could well line up against him.

If Kane plays and turns out to be the difference, City will experience firsthand what they get – or miss.

With Spurs and Daniel Levy still playing hard on a potential deal, and new coach Nuno Espirito Santo seeing Kane firmly in his plans, it seems increasingly unlikely that City will get their man.

If that turns out to be the case, the selection of Pep Guardiola’s squad on Saturday will be a good indicator of how City approach the season without Kane. The question is: which one is better?

Faux 9

In the biggest games of last season, Guardiola often reverted to a system he had used to good effect before; the false nine. Historically, the striker-free system has never had a foothold in Premier League football, but after City’s success with him last season, you think it could spread.

Several players played the role for the Blues last season. In the Chelsea win in January, arguably City’s best performance of the season, Kevin De Bruyne played the part. In Liverpool it was Phil Foden and at Arsenal Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne alternated.

In the Champions League semi-final wins over PSG, De Bruyne stepped in again, while in the Carabao Cup victory over Manchester United earlier in the campaign it was Riyad Mahrez.

The advantages of playing without a recognized attacker are numerous. Having a player lining up in the # 9 position, but then falling deep, can pull center backs out to create space behind for runners.

Kevin De Bruyne looked superb playing a false nine against Chelsea in January (Photo by Shaun Botterill / Getty Images)

It also allows Guardiola to cram more midfielders into the squad. Having Bernardo, Ilkay Gundogan, De Bruyne and Rodri on the pitch at the same time means City keep more of the ball and control games more easily. If the other team doesn’t get the ball back, they can’t score.

The absence of a traditional striker also allows others to position themselves as scorers, as we saw with Gundogan last season. The German managed to bombard the vacant space and score 13 league goals, making him City’s top scorer in the Premier League in 2020-21.

However, the false new system can become predictable if used too often. In the Champions League final, Chelsea were able to undo their effectiveness by refusing to get carried away by De Bruyne’s movement.

Sometimes it can also help to have more presence at the top and feed them with balls and crosses.

Gabriel Jesus

If Kane doesn’t make it to the Etihad Stadium this summer, then City’s only striker by profession will be Gabriel Jesus.

This will be the Brazilian’s fifth full season at the club, but having failed to secure a regular starting spot so far, he may be looking to step away soon.

Jesus made 22 Premier League starts last season before switching to the false nine system, but a modest nine-goal return hasn’t exactly blown the roof.

Jesus has a significant advantage. He’s now familiar with Guardiola’s cover-to-cover system, as he delivers rhythm, cunning and incisiveness in attack. Coincidentally, it was Jesus who led City’s attack in both league meetings with Spurs last season. The first was a 2-0 loss, the second a 3-0 victory.

There is no doubt that Jesus is a talented forward and at 24 he still has time to develop, but the Citizens feel he is not the long term answer up front.

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Ferran Torres

Ferran Torres arrived at City last summer after spending most of his young career as a right-winger, but he has shown on more than one occasion he can make the No.9 role his own. .

The choice of his cameos up front returned to Newcastle at the end of last season, where a clinical demonstration saw him score his first hat trick for the club.

Ferran Torres won a stunning hat-trick against Newcastle (AFP photo via Getty)

Ferran possesses many of the qualities needed to be a top striker – instinct, clinical finish, intelligence, and aerial ability – but perhaps due to his relative inexperience he is likely to go extinct, as he has. made during the recent defeat of the Community Shield.

At 21, his game has yet to mature, but it may be a few more years before he becomes the elite striker City want.


With Foden and De Bruyne unavailable for selection and Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish not entirely in the know, City might not have the staff to employ a false nine against Spurs on Sunday.

It seems more likely that Torres will start ahead of Jesus, given the latter’s shorter preseason.

What if City don’t sign Kane this summer? Considering its success last season, the False New System seems the way to go, with a few rare times Jesus and Ferran.

How do you think Pep Guardiola should set up his attack? Follow our new editor City Fan Brands Alex Brotherton sur Twitter to participate in the discussion and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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