When Sergio Aguero signed for Manchester City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, not many would have imagined that the Argentine would go onto grow into one of the finest strikers to have played in the Premier League.
Having scored the most important goal in the history of the club in his debut season at City, delivering them their first-ever Premier League title, Aguero grew from strength to strength ever since. The 31-year-old now stands as the all-time leading goalscorer for Manchester City, with 254 strikes in 368 matches.
Aguero’s 180 goals in the Premier League puts him fourth on the list of all-time leading goalscorers in the competition, while his 12 hat-tricks are unmatched in the league. Such a pivotal member of the team, the Argentine has won four Premier League titles at Manchester City, along with five League Cups and an FA Cup.
Aguero has been in fine form this season too, but the centre-forward is set to turn 32 years old in a couple of months. And with just one year left on his contract at Manchester City, there is a sense of uncertainty surrounding his future at the club, with a return to boyhood club, Independiente mooted in the press.
Manchester City needs to have a succession plan in place for if and when Aguero decides to call time on his stint at the Etihad. And here we look at five strikers who would be ideal to replace the Citizens’ all-time leading goalscorer when he moves on;
Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
One Argentine striker for another, Lautaro Martinez’s stocks have been on the rise since the last couple of years. Having made the switch to Inter Milan in 2018, the 22-year-old has grown leaps and bounds since and is currently one of the most sought-after centre-forwards across Europe, with the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea eyeing his signature.
The 22-year-old has had a fine 2019/20 campaign with Inter, having bagged 16 goals and set up four more in 31 matches across all competitions, leading the club’s title charge early in the campaign. A complete all-round centre-forward, Martinez would be a great fit in Guardiola’s team at the Etihad, and at 22, he could be the Citizens’ star striker for years to come.
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
The breakout star of the season, Erling Haaland’s rise to the top over the past year has been rapid and eventful to say the least. During the first half of the 2019/20 campaign, with RB Salzburg, Haaland plundered 28 goals in 22 matches across all competitions, that included a hat-trick on his UEFA Champions League debut.
This kind of form saw the Norwegian attract a lot of interest in January, but he ended up snubbing Manchester United to sign for Borussia Dortmund, where has continued to thrive. In 11 matches for the Germans, the 19-year-old has already netted 12 times and assisted two more. Electric pace, sharp movement, class finishing, Haaland has displayed all qualities of a top striker and is just 19 years old.
Donyell Malen (PSV)
May not be the biggest name on the list, but Donyell Malen is carving out a reputation for himself quite rapidly at PSV Eindhoven. Having spent time at the academies of Ajax and Arsenal, the 21-year-old joined PSV in 2017 and has swiftly risen through the ranks to become a key first-team member for the Eredivisie outfit.
Malen is enjoying his best season in 2019/20, having already amassed a tally of 17 goals and nine assists in 25 matches, although injuries have curtailed his development. The 21-year-old has broken into the Netherlands national team as well. Able to play through the middle and on the flanks, his versatility would be an asset for Guardiola's side. Fast, instinctive and a deadly finisher with both his feet, the Dutchman could be the heir-apparent to Aguero at the Etihad.
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
One of the best young forwards in the game currently, Kylian Mbappe needs no introduction. Having burst onto the scenes at AS Monaco in 2016, the Frenchman led them to the Ligue 1 title in 2016/17, before leaving for PSG where he has continued to torment defenders and accumulate domestic trophies in large numbers.
With 90 goals and 49 assists in just 120 appearances for PSG, his capabilities on the pitch are never in doubt. At just 21, Mbappe has the world at his feet, having already won the World Cup with France. A chance to work with one of the best coaches in Guardiola would appeal to the Frenchman, although Manchester City might find it hard to beat Real Madrid, who have been chasing his signing for years now.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Perhaps Manchester City don’t have to look outside for the man to replace Aguero at all. Gabriel Jesus has been with the team since January 2017 and has shown glimpses of brilliance, but the consistency has been lacking from the Brazilian international’s game. However, that seems to have changed in the ongoing campaign.
The 23-year-old has bagged 18 goals and assisted nine more in 39 games, displaying that he is tailor-made for Guardiola’s team. While possessing all the attributes required of an elite striker, Jesus also backs it up with exceptional work-rate, acting as City’s first line of press. Having spent three years with the club, he is already well-versed with the rigours of the Premier League and the demands of Guardiola and would save a lot of money for City.