Which superstar striker will Man City sign next summer?

We lose a very important legend in Sergio Aguero; very hard shoes to fill,” Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak acknowledged at the start of June. “But I’m confident that we will we will find the right player to fill those shoes.”

However, the summer transfer window closed without the club signing a replacement for the Argentine attacker, meaning Pep Guardiola must continue without an orthodox No.9.

Finding a worthy successor to Aguero was never going to be easy, of course. City’s record goalscorer, who netted 28 or more times in seven of his 10 seasons at the club, was the kind of ultra-reliable finisher that almost all top clubs must possess.

However, through a combination of injury and illness, Aguero’s importance to Guardiola’s side had waned over the past two seasons. Essentially, the Catalan found a way to win without the prolific centre-forward.

Still, City made signing a striker a priority this summer, and went shopping at the high end of the market. “It’s not about numbers; it’s about the quality,” Khaldoon explained.

There are few strikers in the world that can improve a City side capable of winning the Premier League and reaching the Champions League final without a classic centre-forward.

But they made Tottenham’s Harry Kane their No.1 target and were confident that a deal could be done, given the England captain wanted to move to the Etihad.

Guardiola now says that he is happy with his squad, with Ferran Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling all able to play as a striker, and Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden serving as alternative false-nines.

But they are likely to be back in the hunt for a centre-forward next season when the City boss heads into the final year of his contract with the possibility that he could still be chasing a first Champions League success with the club.

The summer of 2021 will be remembered as the transfer window when legends switched clubs, with Lionel Messi suddenly leaving Barcelona after 20 years at Camp Nou, before Cristiano Ronaldo sensationally returned to Manchester United.

Next summer, though, could be the one where the game’s future stars make era-defining moves, with Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland both set to be on the market.

World Cup winner Mbappe will be available for free at the end of the season, as he has repeatedly rejected Paris Saint-Germain’s offers to extend his contract at the Parc des Princes.

City have shown an interest in the France international in the past, most notably before he swapped Monaco for PSG in 2017, and they, like every top side, would be more than willing to take him.

However, the 22-year-old is seemingly intent on moving to Real Madrid and besides, any deal for Mbappe could potentially be complicated by the fact that City and PSG’s owners hail from United Arab Emirates and Qatar, respectively – two countries with strained diplomatic relations.

Haaland, then, is a far more realistic objective, with the Norwegian international understood to have a release clause in his contract which means he can leave Borussia Dortmund for £64 million ($87m) at the end of 2021-22 season.

City would certainly seem to be a front-runner, helped by the fact that he is a fan of the club his father Alfie played represented in the early-2000s.

And the path is certainly clearer than it would have been had he been available for the same price in the transfer window that just closed.

Premier League rivals Chelsea were interested in the 21-year-old but re-signed former striker Romelu Lukaku instead, while Manchester United could be hampered by the huge wages they will pay Ronaldo over the next two seasons.

Barcelona’s financial problems mean they are unlikely to be in the running, while even the mighty Madrid would struggle to afford both Mbappe and Haaland.

Bayern Munich must obviously plan for life after veteran striker Robert Lewandowski but the Bavarians suspect Haaland’s wage demands will be too high for them, while PSG already have sizeable wage bill with Messi and a host of other high-profile free transfers having joined Neymar in the French capital this summer.

Of course, City have walked away from deals in the past when they have felt the money being requested by players and their agents is unreasonable.

Consequently, they could yet reignite their interest in Kane, given his desire to be part of a trophy-winning team is likely to be just as intense next year.

However, negotiations are unlikely to get any easier either. Kane’s contract runs until 2024 and Guardiola appeared to hint that there will be no follow-up offer by wishing the player well for the rest of his career.

Of course, new targets could emerge over the course of this season, such as Dusan Vlahovic, who hit 21 goals for Fiorentina last season, or the aforementioned Lewandowski, who has hinted he might like a new challenge before the end of his career.

In addition, highly-rated Academy striker Liam Delap will get the opportunity to show his huge potential at the Etihad this season.

Still, the search for a striker is likely to resume next summer and while Haaland probably sits top of City’s wish-list, striking a deal with his agent, Mino Raiola, could prove just as difficult as trying to persuade Levy to part company with Kane.