Nuno still to make call on if Kane will play for Spurs at Wolves
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Manchester City’s pursuit of Harry Kane will more than likely go down to the wire – although even if the Tottenham star does move to the Etihad Stadium, the Citizens will need a long-term replacement in the next few years. Yet, having developed their youth academy in recent years, there may be a striker already good enough to replace him at City – a certain Liam Delap.
Liam, son of Stoke City hero and Premier League icon Rory, has recently signed a three-year contract extension at City, keeping him at the club until 2026.
And, having scored on his first-team debut against Bournemouth last season, has seemingly already worked his way into Pep Guardiola’s thinking.
Delap scored 24 goals in just 20 games last season to fire City to the Premier League 2 title, as he showed his attacking prowess before featuring for the star-studded first team squad.
And, having trained with some of the world’s best players at City, Delap says he is in the perfect environment to develop.
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“I fit in here,” Delap said to Manchester City’s official website.
“I feel like everything has kind of fallen into place and that progress has been down to all the coaches, all the players, helping me get through that.
“My overall game has improved in every area. Being around the best players just helps you.”
It begins to beg the question of whether City need to buy Kane’s long-term successor.
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Already scoring more goals at youth level than Kane did, making his Premier League debut earlier in his career and scoring his first senior goal earlier – with arguably better coaching and in a team with more attacking quality – Delap could be the man to replace the England captain should he make the switch to the Premier League champions.
Gabriel Jesus hasn’t developed as much in the striker role as City fans may have hoped for, however in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Norwich City, the Brazilian showed that he is more than capable in a winger role at City, which may be where he plies his trade in the future.
And so with the 24-year-old having no realistic chance of being a forward for City, and with Pep’s burning need for an out-and-out striker following Sergio Aguero’s departure to Barcelona, there remains possibly two gaps for striking depth.
Delap evidently isn’t ready yet; only prodigies in the ilk of Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are able to shine on the world stage at an age that young.
That isn’t to say he can’t make cameo appearances as such. He has shown on his venture against Bournemouth that he can do the business for Pep Guardiola.
But with Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Ferran Torres all capable of playing in the false nine role, Delap may be best off with a loan spell in the Championship – similar to what Kane underwent for Norwich, Leicester and Millwall.
Kane took the experience from these loans and instantly burst onto the scene at Spurs; and if he is to speak with Delap as a mentor should he move to City, that topic of conversation would likely crop up.
Delap has the credentials to be a regular player for City in the future if he continues to work at the pace he is now; but playing consistently in the youth teams can stunt a players’ growth.
Having seen the path that Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings underwent – with the Everton striker having plied his trade at Northampton Town and Sheffield United in the lower leagues, and Ings with Burnley – Delap may be licking his lips at a potential Championship move.
And, with Kane likely to be exiting his peak at the age of 32, Delap will be 22 at this point – just about to enter his.
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