News From Manchester: Julian Alvarez can unlock new £65m partnership to take Man City to the next level – Joe Bray

After Alvarez's incredible six-goal return for River Plate on Wednesday, Marcelo Gallardo had his tongue firmly in cheek when he said: If City want to loan us the player until the end of the year, we have no problem and we will be very grateful! But Guardiola wont listen to my request. We would be very grateful if you can leave us Julin until the end of the year!”

This week, chief executive Ferran Soriano has added to the stance of Txiki Begiristain and Pep Guardiola to insist that Alvarez will be a City player in the summer, and that the club are already rejecting loan enquiries for him. It seems City are preparing to go from no strikers to two next season.

In fairness, City are getting exactly what they will have wanted from Alvarez's loan spell back at River after his 14.1m January signing. He's playing regularly, averaging a goal or assist every 79 minutes, and has scored his first goal for Argentina.

More than that, the 14 goals he's scoring have all shown qualities City have lacked since Sergio Aguero left. There are plenty of strikes from on-the-shoulder runs followed by emphatic finishes, there are long-range strikes, and there are opportunistic goals alongside instictive poacher's finishes.

Look at his record-breaking six goals on Wednesday. The first came after a good run and smart finish, the second was a reactive finish to convert a cross, and the third was a 25-yard arrow to the bottom corner. He forced the goalkeeper into a mistake for his fourth, lifted a lovely lob over the 'keeper to get on the end of a through-ball from halfway to get five, and the fifth saw him dance through the defence to complete a double-hattrick.

He's not just scoring lots of goals, he's scoring lots of different goals that a natural striker should, and it will be hard for City to ignore him if that form continues.

Of course, he will come into next season having played six months without stopping, and will need time to adapt to the Premier League like many other youngsters who have come from abroad. When he does settle, however, he could have a similar impact to Gabriel Jesus or Ferran Torres if his recent form is anything to go by.

At that point, City will have to decide how to fit him in the same side as Erling Haaland – the 51m arrival from Borussia Dortmund who will be expected to lead the line straight away. Guardiola is not afraid to rotate even his best players, so Alvarez would still get a chance even if playing back-up to Haaland.

But the pair's arrival could unlock another formation opportunity City have lacked for some time – the ability to play two players upfront.

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