Manchester City might need to sign a new forward in the summer transfer window after losing Riyad Mahrez.
Manchester City demonstrated last season that they are the best team in the world, and by the end of 2023, they might have the trophy to put that claim to rest.
Pep Guardiola once again used his tactical prowess to create a team capable of the incredible after a challenging start to the season. They may have shrunk to lanes this summer, but they are still leagues ahead of their Premier League competitors.
The upcoming season appears to be excellent for the neutral, but it may be harder than ever for City to win back the title. Everyone has become better.
Captain Ilkay Gundogan left for Barcelona after being one of the most important figures in the run-in. Mateo Kovacic is of a similar mould and has replenished the numbers in midfield but it’s not yet clear if he can match the German’s level.
Riyad Mahrez has also left but as of yet, no one has come in for him. £30million for a 32-year-old is a great deal but City have lost an understated crucial player. One who always contributed a high number of goals and assists and would often deliver in important moments.
It may not seem that losing Mahrez will be so costly given he didn’t see a minute of either the FA Cup or Champions League finals but the Algerian actually started a big portion of games, significantly more in fact than the season previous in which he finished top scorer. Mahrez was a pure attacking outlet and was so valuable to Guardiola because he was so good at being the one to help break down teams who sat back.
Without him, City have lost a dynamic and should still consider replacing him before the window closes. One player who could be that replacement is Kaoru Mitoma.
The Japanese sensation took England by storm last season and enjoyed an excellent debut campaign, finishing with 10 goals (many of which were fantastic) and eight assists. Mitoma showed lighting speed, bewildering skill and a killer touch in the final third of the pitch.
Guardiola was left impressed and discussed the 26-year-old prior to the pre-season friendly with Yokohama Marinos. When asked about the quality of Asian football, he said: “Well I would say the impact of [Kaoru] Mitoma on the Premier League has been incredible. He is in the right place with the right manager and his last season was extraordinary. And look at what Japan have done in the World Cup in a tough, tough group.”
That is a strong recommendation, and Mitoma possesses the exact game-changing attacking ability that City would lack without Mahrez. The 26-year-old is mostly a left-winger, but he has also played on the right and appears to have no issue doing so for City. Additionally, it would provide excellent protection for Jack Grealish, preventing the need for another wide deployment of Foden.
With the addition of Josko Gvardiol, Man City’s first goal is still to strengthen their defensive options, but if they decide a new forward is needed, Guardiola already knows who would be a terrific choice.