Why John Guidetti Can Be Manchester City's New Mario Balotelli

Dan FitchFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2013

ALKMAAR, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 25:  John Guidetti of Feyenoord in action during the Dutch Eredivisie match between AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord on September 25, 2011 at the AFAS Stadium in Alkmaar, Netherlands. (Photo by Anoek de Groot/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Manchester City finally relieved themselves of the permanent headache that was Mario Balotelli on transfer deadline day.

They didn’t sign anyone to replace him, but if Robert Mancini had splashed out £15m to bring in a 20-year old striker who had scored 20 goals in 23 games in the Eredivisie last season, then the City fans would now be excitedly waiting for his debut.

Manchester City’s John Guidetti did just that last season. What’s better is that he came through the City youth system, having been snapped up from IF Brommapojkarna of Guidetti’s native Sweden.

Already capped once by Sweden, Guidetti made a huge impression at Feyenoord last season.  In addition to the 20 goals he scored, he also provided eight assists.

His statistics might have been even more impressive were it not for a mystery virus that struck Guidetti in April of last year, causing him to lose all feeling in his right leg.

In total, the condition kept Guidetti out of the game for nine months. He returned to action in mid-January in City's development squad match against Reading. It almost goes without saying that he scored.

Now Mancini has rewarded Guidetti's determination to overcome his condition by showing some faith in the youngster. Of course, City still have plenty of striker options post-Balotelli, with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko all fighting for a place

An injury to any of them, however, would mean that Mancini would need extra cover on the bench—and that's where Guidetti comes in.

So how would he fare as a replacement for Balotelli? There's a lot of physical similarities between the players. Guidetti is just an inch shorter than Balotelli at 6'1" and also boasts a similarly powerful physique. 

Like Balotelli, the Swede has good technical ability and pace. It will take Guidetti more time to really get fit after such a lengthy absence, but when he's back to his peak, he promises to make an impact in the Premier League.

The problem with being a youngster at City is that the club are always liable to go out and sign someone like Edinson Cavani in the summer. 

That sort of stellar signing need not spell the end for Guidetti's career in Manchester, though. It wouldn't be a surprise if any of City's senior strikers left in the summer. In many ways, it is Guidetti's position that looks the most stable.

How good can he be? His former Feyenoord coach Ronald Koeman has claimed that he can can reach the same sort of level as Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

If that's the case, then City don't just have a striker who can replace Mario Balotelli.

They have someone who can be better.