Pep Guardiola’s failed striker search has left him with even bigger problems

Manchester City’s attempts to land Harry Kane this summer have left them short of senior strikers this summer but the negotiations with Tottenham has presented another problem

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Manchester City’s failed pursuit of Tottenham captain Harry Kane dominated the summer transfer window and could easily define the club’s season.

Pep Guardiola’s side had prioritised a move for the England skipper but were continually frustrated in their efforts to land them, leading them to consider a last-gasp move for Cristiano Ronaldo.

While there were reservations at City over the signing of the Portuguese superstar, it was felt that a central striking figure who could guarantee goals would elevate the club’s ambitions this season.

It is well documented that Gabriel Jesus is the only recognised senior striker in City’s squad and whilst there is no shortage of attacking options, it leaves the squad without a ruthless scoring striker.

Pep Guardiola was frustrated in Man City’s attempts to sign Harry Kane

Having recorded successive five-goal home victories this could be overplayed, but against a well-drilled defensive unit who have an effective counter-attacking plan – such as Tottenham on the opening day of the campaign – City can be made to rue not having a prolific scorer.

Indeed, that opening day loss at Spurs was the third successive loss to nil for Guardiola’s side having lost by the same scoreline to Leicester in the Community Shield and last season’s Champions League final against Chelsea.

Furthermore, City’s failed pursuit of the player has now been outlined, as detailed in The Athletic , explaining their first approach for the striker saw five of their first-team squad offered in part-exchange.

Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez were all names on the table for a move to Spurs to help accelerate the Kane deal, but none were enough to tempt the North London club into a deal.

All five players will be involved in City’s first-team squad this campaign with varying degrees of significance but each will be aware that their club used them as a barter during the summer window.

It is important not to overstate the significance of this; after all, these are all professional players who have enjoyed great success at City and they are not going to down tools – indeed, they could even be motivated to prove the club, and Guardiola, wrong.

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Yet there is a risk that each will feel undervalued within the current setup and could have them agitating for a move away, as was the case with both Laporte and Silva this summer – neither were able to secure a move to Spanish football.

Dressing room unity and togetherness are key for any dressing room and the last thing Guardiola will want is unhappy players, or some who may not be fully focused on the long-term success at the club.

So City’s failure to land Kane may see them continue to come up short in one-off matches against top-level sides specifically setup to exploit these weaknesses, but it could also have an adverse lingering impact off the pitch this campaign.

Few coaches are better at fostering team spirit and a unified stance than Guardiola but his abilities will be stretched to the limit this season if City are not only to maintain last season’s levels, but secure that elusive Champions League crown.

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