The Almeria forward has strangely been linked with a move to Pep Guardiola’s team, but could a transfer truly be in the offing?
Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Erling Haaland and….Umar Sadiq all have one thing in common: all four have now been linked with a move to Manchester City in recent months.
Following Pep Guardiola’s adaptation to Sergio Aguero’s constant injuries in 2020/21 and reservations over Gabriel Jesus filling in, there was an expectation to splurge on a top centre-forward this summer.
Regardless of whatever the decorated manager says, the club ought to acquire a new number nine following Aguero’s move to Barcelona.
Kane’s star quality is known, despite an absence of trophies at club level, Lukaku has demonstrated in recent campaigns to be one of Europe’s leading strikers and Haaland often resembles one of those computer-generated players on Football Manager you know you can’t help but have in your team.
Indeed, a case can be made for any of the aforementioned three signing for City, as they’ll make a club brimming with talent significantly better. Given Pep’s tendency to prioritise league titles over European success (regardless of the latter’s glamour), the Cityzens will immediately be labelled Premier League favourites before a ball is kicked.
Having said that, the Cityzens have been known to make left-field signings under the Spanish manager.
This claim can be disputed by observers, many of whom believe the ex-Barcelona boss is privileged at the Etihad Stadium, but City’s inclination to move for transfer alternatives certainly can’t be dismissed.
The Manchester outfit moved for Claudio Bravo when Barca weren’t willing to sell Marc-Andre ter Stegen, didn’t go out of their way to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, neither did they panic when Jorginho moved to Chelsea in 2018 nor when a deal couldn’t be struck for Kalidou Koulibaly last summer.
Failure to sign the Italy regista saw them wait a year to buy Rodri and they opted for Ruben Dias in last season’s extended summer window having considered Sevilla’s Jules Kounde as an alternative to K2.
It’s seldom ever ‘X player or bust’ for Pep’s City, and they could be poised to utterly surprise observers again if recent links to Sadiq are to be believed. Yes, Umar Sadiq. The gangly Almeria frontman…that one.
Despite his gigantic frame, Umar is simply not an old-fashioned target man.
He tends to drop into deeper positions or drift out wide to respectively dribble aggressively with the ball or isolate his marker on the flanks. His 2.1 dribbles per game ranked highest in the Almeria side and the 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist was seventh in the entire La Liga 2.
Combining his notable dribbling and ball-carrying to his impressive hold-up play makes for a rounded frontman, whose willingness to play with teammates saw him create seven clear-cut chances in 20/21, registering five assists in the campaign.
Even though 20 goals — a new personal best — wasn’t enough to see the Andalusians return to La Liga, his fancy footwork and talent shone through in his debut season.
For all his strengths, however, is a certain profligacy that frustrates even the coolest of cucumbers.
Sadiq missed an incredible 30 opportunities termed ‘big chances’ in 20/21, the highest in the Rojiblancos side. He also holds the unwanted record for the entire division, recording 12 more misses than Fuenlabrada attacker Aboubakary Kante.
Even though he’s already 24, he’s never truly played regular football at the highest level to hone his craft and fine-tune his raw ability. This probably explains why City are reportedly looking to loan him out to Ligue 1 side Troyes for a season, before integrating him into the team in 2022/23.
For one, it remains to be seen if the Manchester outfit are truly willing to shell out the rumoured €30 million — half his €60 million release clause — for a player who isn’t guaranteed a long-term future at the club.
The newly-promoted French side are one of 10 clubs owned by City Football Group, becoming the latest in September 2020. A feature of the partnership among those clubs often sees the Manchester outfit send out signings to the other nine over the years, but this has never resulted in a first-team role.
Most of these players get stuck in the unwanted pattern of recurring temporary deals yearly and never make the grade at the Etihad.
Girona were beneficiaries of the agreement in the past, notably welcoming Pablo Maffeo for three seasons between 2015 to 2018, while Nigeria’s Olarenwaju Kayode played for the Catalonia outfit briefly in 17/18 before moving to Shakhtar Donetsk for the rest of the season in March 2018.
The Ukraine heavyweights acquired the Super Eagle permanently in June 2018, but he’s spent two of those years on loan and is currently halfway through a two-year temporary spell at Sivasspor.
Admittedly, some of these players have landed on their feet: Douglas Luiz spent two years on loan at Girona before Aston Villa signed the Brazil midfielder in 2019, Pablo Mari never kicked a ball for the Manchester side between 2016 and 2019 but currently plays at Arsenal after three loan spells and a permanent transfer to Flamengo and Leeds United’s Jack Harrison is a key player under Marcelo Bielsa having joined from New York City in 2017.
The trend hitherto suggests Umar may never be integrated into Man City’s XI and may have to make do with loan spells elsewhere before a permanent sale. An anticipated rebuttal to this sentiment would be his rumoured transfer fee — €30 million — which blows previous outlays out of the water and possibly points to an investment into the future.
A path into the Cityzens first team has never materialised for anyone in the CFG player exchange, but will Umar buck that trend? If a transfer eventually happens — and for that fee — expect these discussions to be had in the next few years.
Sadiq is no Kane, Lukaku or Haaland, but he could be the talk of the town if this utterly strange rumour eventually comes true.