Diego Costa would win the Premier League title for Manchester City if he was plucked out of the free agent pool, says Micah Richards.
Pep Guardiola has his side back in the hunt for top-flight glory in 2021, with the Blues overcoming a slow start to hit their stride when it matters most.
They have, however, been enduring uncharacteristic struggles in the final third, with attacking midfielder Phil Foden currently their top scorer with nine goals across all competitions.
Established frontmen Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero have been struggling for form and fitness, with just seven efforts recorded between them.
Richards believes the time has come for City to snap up another striker, with former Chelsea frontman Costa currently without a club following his release by La Liga giants Atletico Madrid.
“Manchester City are already on a ridiculously good run of form but if they signed Diego Costa now, he would win them the Premier League – I am sure of it,” former Blues defender Richards told BBC Sport.
“Costa is 32 and I am not suggesting he is a long-term solution for City up front, but the former Chelsea striker is a free agent after ending his Atletico Madrid contract in December, and can sign for anyone for nothing.
“Why not get him in until the end of the season? He would do more than just ruffle a few feathers and be a pain in the backside for opposition defences – he is a proven finisher who would offer Pep Guardiola’s side a proper plan B.
“Yes, you would have to cover Costa’s wages, but the massive difference he could make to City’s season would make that worthwhile.”
Richards said of the issues a Brazilian forward has endured at the Etihad Stadium this season: “I like Jesus a lot, and he is far more than just a grafter, but when I watch him he is not always looking to get on the end of balls into the box like he did against Cheltenham in the FA Cup on Saturday – he is often lurking deeper or on the left, linking play.
“It means City sometimes don’t have a focal point. If they had someone who constantly wanted to run in behind defences then, with their creative players looking for them, I honestly think they would be frightening. They would clean up, no matter how teams tried to stop them.
“Costa could be that striker and not only would he finish the chances that City are making, his presence would increase the opportunities for his team-mates too.”
Any efforts City make to bring in another goalscorer will also take into account the fact that Aguero’s contract is due to expire in the summer.
Richards added on the iconic Argentine: “He has had his game-time managed so much already this season that, when he returns after testing positive for Covid-19, we don’t really know how much a part Aguero will be able to play in the final few months of the season.
“That’s why I say get someone in now, and then see what Aguero wants to do in the summer when his contract is up.
“If he wants to stay another year, and he can get a proper pre-season under his belt – which didn’t happen this time – then perfect. I’m not writing him off because I know exactly how good he is – I’m just saying City need another option right now.”