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 transfer that has seen City treble their investment from when they bought him in 2020.
The Spaniard, initially signed as a winger, hadn’t played since October because of injury but started the season in fine form as a makeshift striker following City’s failure to persuade Tottenham to part company with Harry Kane during the summer.
Torres’ departure leaves City with even fewer options in that centre forward role, which has been occupied by the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva this season.
But when discussing the Torres situation shortly before Christmas, manager Pep Guardiola confirmed there are no plans to directly replace him by recruiting in January.
“We are not going to bring in a striker,” he said in no uncertain terms.
What it does is offer a chance for younger talents to come through. In that sense, The Times has reported the intention is to hand 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 split his time between the first team and the Under-23 squad so far this season. He continues to impress at the junior level and has made nine first-team appearances in all competitions – that includes goals scored in the Champions League and Carabao Cup.
Palmer leads the new generation of talent but is far from the only one, with The Times also namedropping 19-year-old James McAtee as another who is on Guardiola’s radar – he made his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup earlier this season.
Guardiola himself is famed for his player development. He has overseen the rise of Phil Foden during his time in charge at City and turned a golden homegrown generation into arguably the best club side of all time when he was calling the shots at Barcelona.
90min revealed before Christmas that City would consider replacing Torres, but had not settled on a successor. One player who has been discussed is long-term target Mikel Oyarzabal, who predominantly operates as a winger for Real Sociedad and would fit the bill if Guardiola claims City won’t sign a striker in January.