Still plenty of life in Sergio Agüero at Manchester City

MANCHESTER CITY - AS MONACO

Gabriel Jesus’ brace against Swansea earlier in the month sparked what seemed unthinkable only months earlier – Sergio Agüero’s time was up at Manchester City. Not suited to Pep Guardiola’s system, unwilling to work hard enough defensively and unable to link-up play effectively, Kun was already being offloaded in many of his critics’ minds.

A little more than two weeks on, the young Brazilian is out with a broken metatarsal and it is Agüero who provides the Etihad with another victory that will live long in the memory.

Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and David Silva were all outstanding in the thrilling win over Monaco in the Champions League but it was the Argentinian who scored the two critical equalisers before laying on the vital fifth for Sane.

Opinions change quickly and while Jesus, Sane, Sterling and De Bruyne are unquestionably City’s (very bright) future, Agüero is still central to their immediate success.

While the 28-year-old remains one of world football’s most natural goal scorers the suggestion was that Agüero’s all-round game was not in sync with Guardiola’s philosophy and when quizzed on his place on the substitute bench shortly after Jesus’s match winning double against Swansea, the Argentintian appeared aware of that.

“In these last three months that are left I have to help the club and as I say the club will decide if I have a place here or not. Now I have to watch what he [Gabriel Jesus] does, to learn a little. I am how I am. I have spent a lot of years in Europe playing this way,” Agüero told reporters.

Now, it is a little early after just one match to be drawing too many conclusions but certainly the under-pressure Kun against Monaco was far busier and far more involved in City’s overall attacking play.

His goals aside, the first owing to a goalkeeping howler and his second an instinctive volley, Agüero was linking up play and his give-and-go with David Silva before rolling the ball into the path of Leroy Sane for City’s fifth was exceptional.

Agüero made 31 passes before his 87th minute substitution, a figure well above his Premier League average of 21.8 this season but it wasn’t only with the ball that the Argentinian’s improved work rate was evident.

One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Agüero was his lack of defensive work and when you see his average number of tackles per match in the Premier League this season is 0.5, it is easy to see why.

On Tuesday night, however, Agüero made four tackles, the most the striker has ever made in a City shirt in a single match and second on the night only to Nicolás Otamendi.

Guardiola was obviously thrilled with the striker’s contribution and when Aguero was asked about their relationship, his response was revealing: “The truth is we get on very well.

“What he [Guardiola] wants, above everything, from all the players is that we push a little more. He’s always asking me for more, more, more. Obviously it’s a sacrifice I have to make, that we all have to make, and fortunately tonight it worked and we’ll see if it keeps working in the next game.”

The next game and the remainder of the season will tell if Agüero has genuinely taken on board this new work ethic and will perhaps determine his City future but if Guardiola is contemplating moving forward without the striker, who is rapidly closing in on the club’s goal scoring record, he should give careful thought.

Industry or not, Aguero’s second against Monaco was his 20th in 29 appearances this season, a figure reached for the fourth consecutive year, and you would need to shell out a lot of money to find a replacement that would guarantee anywhere near that return.

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