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One of the all-time Premier League greats looks set to bow out

At 32, Sergio Aguero appears to be on the verge of a Manchester City exit.

Sergio Aguero (file pic).
Sergio Aguero (file pic).
Image: PA

IS SERGIO AGUERO the most important player in Manchester City’s history?

When he arrived at the club, they had two top-flight titles to their name, won in 1937 and 1968 respectively.

Since he joined, they have won four more, and will likely add a fifth before he departs.

Of course, there were club legends before Aguero, such as Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell, who were both part of their side’s memorable Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1970.

And certainly, there have been players who have had a similar influence to Aguero in the last decade in establishing the team as a European superclub, including Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva.

Yet there is a strong case to be made for Aguero as the most important piece of the expensively assembled jigsaw puzzle, after he arrived from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011 for £35 million — what looked an eye-watering sum at the time but seems a bargain when viewed in today’s context.

After all, it was Aguero’s last-minute goal that not only has proven to be one of most iconic moments in English football’s recent history, but also earned Man City the all-important first Premier League title.

Would City be where they are today were it not for Aguero’s calmness under extreme pressure on that fateful afternoon against QPR, thereby enabling them to pip bitter rivals Man United and prevail?

Breaking the psychological barrier for that first Premier League title was hugely significant, and undoubtedly gave their squad the confidence to build on this groundbreaking feat.

Had that been Aguero’s sole contribution to the City cause, he would still be looked upon very fondly, but instead, it is merely the highest point of a long and glorious career.

He has been a consistent presence in City sides that have frequently dominated the top flight and often blazed a trail with the scintillating style of football they have cultivated.

His record speaks for itself. After nearly 10 Premier League seasons, he is already fourth on the all-time scorers list with 180 goals. Only Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andy Cole (187) have managed more, and the Argentine star has a far superior goals-per-game ratio than the above-mentioned trio, having spent considerably less time playing in English football.

Along with those names and the similarly prolific Thierry Henry, Aguero at least deserves to be in the conversation when it comes to debating the greatest striker to have graced the Premier League.

Somewhat ludicrously, he has just two PFA Team of the Year appearances to his name, the first of which came in 2018, which highlights how underappreciated both his individual and City’s collective achievements have been on occasion.

And yet, despite all these accolades, it appears increasingly likely that Aguero will leave the Etihad outfit at the end of the season.

He has managed double figures in all nine of the Premier League campaigns he has finished so far.

Yet with 0 goals from seven top-flight fixtures so far in the 2020-21 season, that trend will almost certainly end this time around.

Injury problems have prevented Aguero from being at his best in recent months, and the incredible 21-match winning run that has catapulted City to within reach of a fifth Premier League crown was largely achieved without the Argentine star.

Having been so reliant on him in the past, Aguero has been consigned to bit-part status of late.

The 32-year-old’s contract is due to elapse in the summer, and Pep Guardiola did little to dispel rumours of an impending exit earlier this week, when he admitted he was unsure what the future held for the player, adding that he would not give the star game time “for minutes’ sake”.

Despite their formidable form, City don’t have a truly world-class striker to fill the void that would be left by Aguero at present. Gabriel Jesus has plenty of time at 23, yet six Premier League goals this season is not good enough for a club of City’s calibre. As a consequence, they may well try to secure the services of Dortmund’s prodigious Erling Braut Haaland or another top-class striker in the summer.

It would nevertheless be foolish to write off Aguero as a top-level player — the fact that Barcelona are among the clubs being linked with his signature suggests some people believe he still has plenty to offer if given the chance.

During the week, he also came off the bench for City against Southampton, having made just his third Premier League start of the season last month against West Ham.

It is therefore not beyond the realms of possibility that, as his fitness gradually improves, the veteran striker plays his way back into Pep Guardiola’s plans.

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However, if as expected, this season proves to be his last in England, he can take solace in having left an indelible legacy on the Premier League and particularly Manchester City.

Upcoming fixtures:

Friday

Newcastle v Aston Villa (2000)

Saturday

Leeds v Chelsea (12.30)
Crystal Palace v West Brom (15.00)
Everton v Burnley (17.30)
Fulham v Man City (20.00)

Sunday

Southampton v Brighton (12.00)
Leicester v Sheffield United (14.00)
Arsenal v Tottenham (16.30)
Man United v West Ham (19.15)

Monday

Wolves v Liverpool (20.00)

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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