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Pep Guardiola says Ferran Torres can be Man City's No 9 ahead of Sergio Aguero departure

Man City were 4-3 winners against Newcastle in a thrilling match at St James' Park; Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick and Pep Guardiola praised his improvement; Man City are looking for a new striker with Sergio Aguero set to leave at the end of the season

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Following his hat-trick against Newcastle, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola says Ferran Torres’ movement, anticipation and finishing mean he can play as a striker for his side

Pep Guardiola praised Ferran Torres after his hat-trick against Newcastle, saying he can be Man City's new No 9 ahead of Sergio Aguero's departure this summer.

The Spaniard scored three sensational goals in a thrilling 4-3 win at St James' Park, showing superb instincts and reactions as City twice came from behind to take the victory.

Guardiola has sometimes started games without a recognised striker this season, and with Aguero leaving the club in six weeks' time, the links are already beginning to be made with some of Europe's top talent ahead of the summer transfer window.

But Guardiola believes the young forward - who he originally signed as a winger - could become Man City's new No 9 in the future, and praised him for his overall improvement this season.

The Man City manager said: "Not just this evening, of course this evening was important, but his first season in England and his numbers are exceptional. He came as a winger, but he has to think about (being) a striker. When Sergio, Gabriel were out, he was there. He scored against Leeds and Crystal Palace. He didn't have many minutes, but when he played, he had a sense of goal.

"Yeah, he can be [a No 9]. We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively he has improved a lot. The game at Palace, he makes a turn [in his season] - so good. The movement he makes as a striker, for the [third] goal, it hits the bar and where it goes, he knew it.

"The smell, the strikers know, intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent and the first goal is fantastic. Very pleased.

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"Maybe I have to think about how he can play as a striker because every time he plays in that position, he always has a real sense of goal. He is an incredible signing for us as a young player, he can play in three positions up front, but playing more central, he has an incredible sense of goal."

He is a real leader for us. He says straight away to the young guys and the old guys what he believes, because he has incredible experience around locker rooms and in big teams. He is an incredible person and we are delighted, not just me but all the players, that today he could play.
Pep Guardiola on Scott Carson

When asked by Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves if Torres could be the successor for Aguero rather than a new signing, Guardiola replied: "I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe we buy a striker, maybe not.

"We have a guy, he's young. A good transfer. I can use him on the left, right or as a striker. The season is too long, we can't play just 11 players, the best striker we can buy can't play all the minutes. You have to have 50, 60, 70 top players you want, then the academy, we have two, three, four or so interesting players I'm pretty sure next season will help us.

"That's why they hate me the players, when you have these alternatives it's so difficult to let all the players play."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Newcastle in the Premier League

Could he save Man City £100m? Former City defender Joleon Lescott told Sky Sports: "Maybe. It's a lot of pressure to put it all on him and say you've got to be the No 9 for next season but he's definitely in the running for being in that slot.

"We spoke about him before the game and he seems a natural successor for Aguero, especially in that No 9 role, and he proved it against Newcastle."

Torres: An incredible week

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Take a look at Ferran Torres' incredible flick from all angles from Manchester City's win at Newcastle

The man of the moment, Torres, also reflected on a huge week for Man City, telling Sky Sports: "It has been an incredible week, we qualified for the Champions League, won the Premier League and I scored a hat-trick. Very happy.

"I try to improve day by day and also try to learn from my team-mates and my manager. I try to keep improving and getting ready for the Champions League final.

"I always try to go to the first post for set pieces, I flicked the ball and I think it was a very beautiful goal."

The pundits: Will Torres start in CL final?

Ferran Torres vs Newcastle
Image: Has Ferran Torres secured his starting spot in the Champions League final?

Lescott agrees that Torres could be the new No 9 for his former side, but does not think he will start in the Champions League final in a few weeks' time.

"He was exceptional. It was instinctive finishing," he told Sky Sports. "I don't know about starting [in the final]. I think Pep knows the team and the formation he wants to play. I don't see Torres in that, even though he scored a hat-trick at Newcastle. I think he's gone up the pecking order in terms of subs coming on.

Former striker Andy Cole agreed, adding: "After a performance like that, he's first sub. If I need a goal, and he's playing as sharp as he is now, I'm going for him."

Cole was also impressed with Torres on Friday evening and compared him to fellow forward Gabriel Jesus.

He told Sky Sports: "He was sharp. He was in the right place at the right time, but his finishing was clinical and that's what they want. Naturally, he's going to be the future for Manchester City as well. They've definitely got a player there.

"After watching him today, I see potential there because his movement is good. If you look at his goals, they are all poachers' goals.

"A hat-trick at any stage of your career is going to put you on a big high but this one is massive for him.

"The difference between him and Jesus is the movement, it's totally different. I'm watching Jesus today and he hardly moved. You watch Torres and it is totally different. He wants to get in the right areas to score goals.

"I'm looking at all the goals against Newcastle and he's in the right position. He smells it and ultimately you've got to try and get yourself in a certain position as well, but if you are thinking the goalkeeper might parry it or it might come off the post and you are getting there first, he's done that, definitely. He's definitely one for the future."

Bruce: We gave Man City a fright

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Newcastle’s Steve Bruce says his team gave Manchester City a fright but weren’t quite good enough over the 90 minutes

Despite the defeat, it was another goal-laden performance from Newcastle after beating Leicester 4-2 last time out with the Magpies looking to end the season strongly.

Head coach Steve Bruce, who won the Premier League's Manager of the Month award for April earlier on Friday, told Sky Sports: "We gave it a right good go. We gave Man City a fright tonight but we weren't quite good enough.

"Although I can't remember the goalkeeper making save after save, just the sloppiness of a couple of goals is the disappointing thing of the whole evening for me.

"How often do you score three against this mob? Not very often, so the disappointing thing is we just got up and we were a bit naive and our defending had to be better at times.

"It's just getting that balance right, we know we're a threat on the counter-attack and a threat for any team but we have to get that balance right defensively.

"We can't keep conceding the way we have done unfortunately because it's not often you can score three and fours in the Premier League, we have to defend better.

"We've now got to try to get a couple of wins if we can and finish off the season in the form we're in. We've got to stay at it and see where we can get to."

What's next for Willock?

Joe Willock scored in a fifth successive Premier League game for Newcastle on Friday
Image: Joe Willock scored in a fifth successive Premier League game for Newcastle on Friday

It was another superb performance from Joe Willock, who scored Newcastle's third goal in the second half after winning a penalty, with the Arsenal loanee now scoring in five successive Premier League games.

Since moving to Newcastle, he has scored more goals than any Arsenal player in that period, so what does the future hold for Willock?

Ahead of the game, Cole told Sky Sports: "He should be looking to play regular first team football. When you have the opportunity to go on loan, you have to take that as great experience but ultimately, after that loan period, you've got to be looking further forward in your career.

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"To go to Newcastle, which is such a big club, to prove that he can play at that level and score goals… Next season, he's got to say to himself 'I want to be playing regular first team football.

Lescott added: "I don't want to compare them but if (Emile) Smith Rowe had scored the goals he's scored, there would be talk of him going to the Euros with him at Arsenal. But Joe Willock at Newcastle, there's a different emphasis on that.

"But he's definitely going to want to play next season and if it's not for Newcastle, there will be options for him."

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