Opinion: Man City’s Impending Transfer Dilemma
Manchester City's plans to sign a striker could focus on the futures of three players. Recent Champion's League fixtures showed there is a new generation ready to take the spotlight from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
On Tuesday, Ronaldo's Juventus were kicked out of the Champions League in style by Porto - the winning goal flying under Ronaldo's jump in a wall as he turned his back to the ball. On Wednesday, Messi scored an amazing goal but missed a penalty as Barcelona could not stage a comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.
Over the course of Barcelona's two legs against PSG, it was Kylian Mbappe who made the better impression; his four goals made the difference between the sides. Similarly, over in Germany, Erling Haaland was making headlines of his own, ensuring that Europa League specialists Sevilla weren't going to win another European trophy this year.
For Manchester City, the sight of a Champion’s League quarter final stage without Messi or Ronaldo for the first time since 2005 might encourage them in their own quest for glory - and for their chances of signing Messi this summer.
Barcelona reinstated their former president recently and Joan Laporta's first target was to go to Paris and try to turn the tables on a second-leg tie against PSG in the Champion’s League. That didn't go to plan, so he will hope for more luck in his second, equally daunting task - trying to persuade Messi to stay at the Camp Nou.
City have the finances to sign Messi in the summer, but whether they will - or can - is another matter altogether. Signing the best player in the world, has clear temptations. Messi would bring City to another level and he would improve City in Europe, which will also be the biggest signing the club ever made. However, fans have pointed out that Messi will be 34 by the start of next season. He might only be able to give City two or three years, and is the Premier League the best place to go when you're in the final years of your career? Instead, would it not be better to focus on a younger forward signing. Someone who is only going to get better, and might well be available this summer. Some like Erling Haaland?
We've all seen the pictures of Haaland in his City kit after Father Alf-Inge's spell at the club. For all of Messi's brilliance, Haaland is arguably a better long-term option.
When over 1,200 City fans responded to a Twitter poll asking which forward would be a better signing, 89 per cent said Haaland. Haaland would not come cheap, and there would be stiff competition. But the same will be said for Messi. It's very unlikely both will be at the Etihad next season - more likely that neither will.
Also, there is another player to consider in this complex dilemma: Sergio Aguero. Since his return from injury, Aguero has been used sparingly. It would be a shame for his City career to end with a whimper as his last 12 months have been, but with no new contract on the horizon, it might be time for a change for both sides.
City have shown they can live without him, and maybe Aguero would be entitled by rumoured interest from Barcelona. As much as Aguero and Messi apparently want to play together at club level, swapping teams could be an interesting solution to both of their contract situations.
However, for now, there are more options than solutions, and plenty of football to be played before any of the giant clubs make their decisions.
What this week's Champions League developments have reminded City of, however, is that there is more than one superstar in European football that might be available this summer.