Manchester City are tipped to turn to young players like promising 19-year-old Cole Palmer in the second half of the season to replace Ferran Torres, who has joined Barcelona.
Torres has completed his move to Camp Nou this week and will be officially unveiled in January following a move that has seen City triple their investment from when they bought him in 2020.
The Spaniard, who was originally signed as a winger, had not played since October due to injury but started the season in fine form as a provisional striker after City’s failure to persuade Tottenham to separate from Harry Kane during the summer.
Torres’ departure leaves City with even fewer options in the midfield role, which has been occupied by Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva this season.
But when he discussed the Torres situation just before Christmas, manager Pep Guardiola confirmed that there are no plans to directly replace him by recruiting in January.
“We will not bring in a striker,” he said in uncertain terms.
What it does do is offer a chance for younger talents to get through. In that sense, The Times has reported that the intention is to give more playing time to youngsters like Palmer, with the money received for Torres to be saved for the summer instead.
Homegrown Palmer made his senior debut for City in September 2020 and has divided his time between the first team and the U23 squad so far this season. He continues to impress at junior level and has made nine first-team appearances in all competitions – that includes goals scored in the Champions League and Carabao Cup.
Cole Palmer has already made nine first-team appearances this season / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
Palmer leads the new generation of talent but is far from the only one, with The Times also naming 19-year-old James McAtee as another on Guardiola’s radar – he made his first-team Carabao Cup debut earlier this season.
Guardiola himself is known for his player development. He has overseen the rise of Phil Foden during his time in charge at City and turned a golden home-grown generation into arguably the best club side of all time when he moved to Barcelona.
90min revealed before Christmas that City would consider replacing Torres, but had not decided on a successor. One player that has been discussed is the long-term target Mikel Oyarzabal, who mainly acts as an outsider for Real Sociedad and would fit if Guardiola claims that City will not recruit a striker in January.
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