Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Alarm bells ring for Man City as Barcelona make release-clause plan for Lewandowski replacement

Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski

Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski

Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez has been identified as a striker target for Barcelona, whose own Robert Lewandowski is facing an uncertain future, according to reports.

When Barcelona signed Lewandowski from Bayern Munich in 2022, they knew they were getting one of the best strikers – and indeed, players overall – in the world. However, they also acknowledged he would be a short-term reinforcement, since he was already in his mid-thirties.

Lewandowski is still under contract with Barcelona until 2026, but doubts are emerging about the 35-year-old’s future. And according to Diario Sport, Xavi has identified Alvarez as someone who could take over from him.

Barcelona have lined up the signing of Vitor Roque for January, but he is a Brazilian prospect and will not necessarily make an immediate impact. Thus, if they lose Lewandowski, they may want a more senior replacement.

Sport claims the current champions of La Liga are interested in Alvarez as one solution. The former River Plate prospect scored 17 goals in his first season with Man City, in the middle of which he also won the World Cup with Argentina.

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However, he is behind Erling Haaland in the hierarchy for the main centre-forward berth in the Man City lineup. Alvarez is under contract at the Etihad Stadium until 2028 after updating his terms back in March, but how long he sticks around as second fiddle is unclear.

Release clause could help Barcelona sign Alvarez

Besides, the report refers to a €50m (£43.3m) release clause in Alvarez’s contract, which seems on the low side but would enable Barcelona to bypass negotiations with Man City if they believe it would be good value for money.

Barcelona have had their financial issues in recent years, forcing them to focus on free transfers – such as those they pulled off for Eric Garcia and Ilkay Gundogan after their Man City exits – but might be opportunistic if they do have a genuine chance to add Alvarez to their attack (which also contains another former Pep Guardiola pupil in the shape of Ferran Torres).

Despite the perception that he is behind Haaland in the pecking order (who wouldn’t be?), Alvarez has still managed to appear in all 13 matches for Man City so far this season. All but two of those appearances have been starts and he has scored six goals and provided five assists along the way.

Therefore, it might be a myth that Alvarez is a rotation player for the treble winners. Indeed, he got 49 appearances under his belt for them last season as well.

The fact he is the same age as Haaland at 23 means they could be competing for a place for a while unless Alvarez does get itchy feet. But for now, he seems to have Guardiola’s trust and a desire to be a long-term feature in a successful Man City side.

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