Manchester City may be 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League and cruising to the title, but Pep Guardiola and the club’s hierarchy are already planning for next season.
With Sergio Aguero out of contract and free to leave this summer, having not signed an extension, City are in the market for a forward to lead their attack into a new era.
Guardiola is planning for life after Aguero, ensuring he gets the right man to replace City’s all-time record scorer.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been mooted, as has Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.
But the stand-out candidate for City and the most exciting young player in the world, along with Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, is undoubtedly Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland.
His latest Champions League heroics, two goals and an assist in a 3-2 win over Sevilla, underlined his phenomenal talent.
His brace in Spain took him to 41 goals in 42 games for BVB since joining from Red Bull Salzburg, a staggering 18 goals in 13 Champions League games overall, and showcased precisely why he will be the most sought-after player in Europe this summer.
Haaland can leave Dortmund in the summer of 2022 for a fixed buyout clause of £65million.
But City are willing to go above that figure this year to ensure they land him ahead of their rivals.
There will be a clamour to sign Haaland this summer from those who cannot wait, but in City’s favour could be the 15 per cent sell-on clause they have on his Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho, who left them for the Bundesliga club in 2018.
With Sancho valued at £120million by Dortmund, City’s sell-on clause could be worth around £15m, a figure they could waive or negotiate with the German club to enable them to gain an advantage in their pursuit of Haaland.
At 23, Haaland could feasibly lead City’s attack for a decade, unlike Kane, who turns 28 this summer, and would cost the Blues around £150m to prise away from Spurs.
City’s squad, currrently in the midst of a record 17-match winning run, needs tweaking, rather than any wholesale changes.
But the addition of an elite striker this summer is the one position they need to address, with Aguero’s injury history and failure to sign a new deal suggesting this season will be his last, and Gabriel Jesus having failed to live up to expectations. As good as City are even without a No.9, just imagine the with Haaland.
And what of Lionel Messi?
City are still monitoring his situation, given his expected status as a free agent this summer when his Barcelona deal is up, but will again face competition from PSG for arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen.
Landing Messi and Haaland would be a dream double for City, who believe they could pull off both transfers this summer.
That’s the worst possible scenario for their rivals, who have already unfurled the white flag of surrender in his season’s title race.