Pep Guardiola's hand may have been forced this season but the Manchester City manager is getting everything out of his 'incredible' strike partnership.
Having lost Kevin De Bruyne to a long-term injury during the opening win of the season at Burnley, Guardiola was left with a gap in the role behind Erling Haaland. The Belgian had been City's creator-in-chief during the treble-winning campaign and there were concerns as to who could fill his boots.
Julian Alvarez started that game out wide but moved into the role behind Haaland, a position he has since made his own with a string of fine performances. Having initially been signed as back-up for the Norwegian, he has dove-tailed excellently, chipping in with goals and assists when called upon.
ALSO READ: Gvardiol's role at City was highlighted without him even playing vs Wolves
ALSO READ: Guardiola namechecks two players as he explains why City struggled vs Wolves
City fans got glimpses of the partnership last season, and the signs were particularly promising during a 2-1 win at Fulham in April in which both found the net.
"I was really impressed that he [Haaland] took the penalty with the mentality that he has, strong and another goal helps us with Julian," Guardiola said at the time. "Julian all the time helps us, he's incredible, every time he plays he gives us everything.
"Quality goals and assists. Today with the penalty assist from Riyad (Mahrez) and after he has done so… we have two strikers when we need people in the box. These two guys are an incredible weapon that we have."
Alvarez has spoken openly about learning from Haaland, who is the younger of the pair by six months, and the partnership will only grow stronger as they continue to play together. The Argentinian in particular is enjoying an outstanding run of form, forcing Guardiola to admit he is almost undroppable.
“He is so young," the City boss said after Alvarez's brace against Crvena zvezda last month. "What a signing the club have done.
“He has everything - fighting and goals and assists. Incredible, lovely guy. Playing behind Erling he is an incredible threat. Really pleased for him, he deserves it.”
Having claimed their first Champions League crown last season, Manchester City are on a new mission - to clinch back-to-back European titles!
Blues fans won’t forget that magical night in Istanbul, but the slate is wiped clean now as Pep Guardiola and his men look to build a dynasty in the competition.
Our special preview of City’s 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament.
It costs just £3 and is on sale for advance order* on the online shop NOW and in retail outlets from September 17. Just click here to order your copy today.
*Delivery from 13th September onwards