With in-form strikers at a premium at the Premier League’s biggest clubs, will Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Harry Kane or someone else be on shopping lists this summer?
Manchester City winning the Premier League is nothing out of the ordinary but if Pep Guardiola’s team do make it three titles in four years, it will likely come in unusual circumstances, and not just surrounding Covid-19.
The club has coped without main striker Sergio Aguero for most of the season, while back-up number nine Gabriel Jesus has scored only seven goals. Instead, their top scorer is central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has netted 12 times – and Jesus will do well to catch him in the final weeks of the season.
A non-striker has only finished as the Premier League champions’ top scorer three times in history. It is seven years since Yaya Toure became the last player to do so, for City themselves, in 2014. Longer term, the winners’ top marksman has not finished outside the top five in the Golden Boot race since 2001.
Explaining City’s break with tradition on Monday Night Football, four-time Golden Boot winner Thierry Henry said: “It tells you the way they do it at Manchester City is the philosophy, the identity. The way they like to play, it doesn’t matter who’s in that team.
“They miss Aguero, De Bruyne has been out at times, Sterling hasn’t played at times recently; it doesn’t really matter. They have an identity, they have a philosophy, they win as a team.”
City’s transition from relying on a traditional number nine not unique this season. Of the current top four, only one out-and-out striker has scored more than 10 goals – and he is Leicester’s 34-year-old Jamie Vardy.
In the Champions League qualifying race, Chelsea have sampled playing Kai Havertz as their lone striker since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, with Timo Werner yet to hit top form, and with Edinson Cavani’s contract up at…