Man City boss Pep Guardiola faces striker dilemma as ‘verbal war’ creates January opening

Guardiola reflects on Man City's defeat at PSG

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola could be faced with a tough decision in January if an opening to sign Fiorentina frontman Dusan Vlahovic presents itself. The Blues have opted to venture into this season without a recognised striker, but bailing on that approach in January could take them out of the running to sign Erling Haaland next summer.

Vlahovic was linked to Man City this summer when their well-publicised pursuit of Harry Kane fell through.

If they were interested based on last season’s exploits, the way he has begun this campaign will do little to change that.

He has already bagged six goals in his first seven games, fresh off the back of a 21-goal Serie A haul last year which put him just three goals behind Romelu Lukaku.

City and Guardiola seem to be coping fairly well without a senior striker for now, but it is a hole in the squad which could come back to bite them down the line.

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They could therefore be wise to keep tabs on the contract saga which is unfolding in Florence.

Gazzetta dello Sport claim that Fiorentina have started a ‘verbal war’ with Vlahovic’s agent after months of stalled contract negotiations.

The fans appear to be on board with the club, taking a tough stance against the player’s entourage and giving him a tough time on social media for not putting pen to paper.

Clearly, the notion that Vlahovic may not renew his contract is a hot topic over in Italy, and it should be in Manchester too.

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The fact he is seemingly reluctant to tie himself down to new terms at Fiorentina could suggest that he is waiting for a move away, with a host of top clubs interested this summer.

His contract only runs until 2023 as it stands, so it will not be long before the Italian side must face the harsh reality of having to cash in on their prized asset.

Guardiola’s dilemma lies in the fact that a January move for Vlahovic would effectively take City out of the running to sign Haaland in 2022.

Denying the club such a golden opportunity is a big call, but committing to an entire season without a striker could be an even bigger call if the Norwegian ends up signing for someone else anyway.

Holding fire on Vlahovic, or indeed any other striker in January, would be a gamble, but shying away from the race for Haaland could be a future source of regret.

Still, if they did opt to free the Serbian from his Fiorentina tensions in January, they would have some player on their hands.

The 6ft 3in 21-year-old has the physical prowess to strike fear into Premier League defenders, and it would be hard to bet against him getting a big move somewhere over the next 12 months.

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