Last weekend Sergio Agüero delivered another magnificent performance in the Premier League. After the hat trick he scored against Watford on Saturday, Agüero has now accumulated six goals in the same quantity of matches across all competitions this season.
Since he joined Manchester City in 2011 he has scored 127 in 186 matches. Only Alan Shearer and Harry Kane got to the impressive 100 league goals mark in fewer matches than Agüero since the re-branding of the English top flight division into Premier League.
Despite his statistics and consistent contribution to Manchester City, rumours of Agüero’s departure started last season when El Kun was left out of the starting eleven in the game against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Speculation continued with the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and during the last summer transfer window when Arsenal tried to sign Agüero in exchange for Alexis Sánchez after Manchester City made an offer for the Chilean player.
However, Agüero showed resilience and Guardiola stayed true to City’s iconic forward. Pep introduced a tactical change playing three at the back to create an additional space for a second striker to fit the Agüero-Gabriel Jesus partnership in the first eleven and so far the numbers indicate that it was the right decision.
Sergio Aguero has been directly involved in 158 goals in 186 Premier League games for Man City.
The Agüero-Gabriel Jesus partnership has become one of Europe’s most prolific attacking forces with a combined total of 16 goals and six assists in eight matches. If the previous question was whether Agüero would move to another team, now it’s whether Guardiola will still try to sign Sánchez again this winter.
Looking at Agüero’s Premier League numbers, it is difficult to understand why the player did not see any action during the last double international fixture. It is true that Agüero’s performances at a club level haven’t been replicated when playing for the national side, however, looking at this in isolation would be a mistake.
In fact, the same can be said about Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala, Angel Di María and to a certain extent, Lionel Messi. None of the previous three managers in charge of Argentina’s national side (Sabella, Martino and Bauza) have been able to get the best out of this group of talented players.
Against Uruguay and Venezuela, Jorge Sampaoli opted for Mauro Icardi as the main centre forward. The second option was Darío Benedetto, a player who is performing brilliantly at Boca Juniors but has no experience at international level. Benedetto saw some minutes against Venezuela while Agüero spent 180 minutes on the bench.
With the team currently sitting in a play-off position and no margin left, we may expect to see more of El Kun in the last two qualifying games against Peru and Ecuador.
In the long term, Sampaoli needs to understand the reasons why Agüero is not the same player when playing for the Argentina national team to the one we see week in week out in the Premier League and Champions League.
To use him as a scape goat (in the same unfair way Higuaín has been treated) is a shortcut and the easiest option. If Sampaoli doesn’t get this right, Argentina may be missing the best years of a top class striker.
Born in Buenos Aires, lives in London. Racing club supporter, Spurs follower (in that order) and Old Actonians player. Full time fan of the beautiful game, work is a distraction.