EFL Cup final: Where do Aguero and Aubameyang rank among Europe's elite?
Manchester City and Arsenal will be able to call upon two masters of their craft as they chase EFL Cup final glory at Wembley on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero is already City's all-time top goalscorer and two shy of bringing up 200 for the club, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's prolific exploits at Borussia Dortmund meant there was tangible excitement when he arrived as Arsenal's £56million record signing last month.
Aguero's returns over the past five seasons are remarkably consistent and he is on course for his most prolific campaign yet, despite doubts persisting over how much faith City boss Pep Guardiola truly has in his star forward.
The Argentina international is on 29 this term, following on from hauls of 29, 33, 29, 32 and 28. Despite frequent struggles with muscular injuries until last season, when suspensions and Gabriel Jesus' arrival offered new complications, Aguero has not wavered.
Hitting the 40-goal mark is well within the 29-year-old's sights, something Aubameyang achieved in 2016-17 having hit 39 the year before. He outscored Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski to top the individual Bundesliga charts last season.
But, for all their insatiable appetite within the 18-yard box, Aguero and Aubameyang have a curious status within the elite of which they are undoubtedly a part.
As fees of €100m and more were splashed last close season, invariably on prime attacking talent, Aguero and Aubameyang were strangely absent from the conversation.
Indeed, discounting Aubameyang jarringly linking himself with Real Madrid on a number of occasions, neither have been at the centre of a big-time transfer saga while others, whose achievements are fewer in number, have.
At 28, the move to Arsenal is likely to be the major transfer of Aubameyang's career and Aguero, especially in light of his regularly stated ambitions to return to Independiente before calling time on his playing days, will probably never recoup more than the £38m City paid Atletico Madrid for his services in 2011.
There are, of course, a limited number of spaces for strikers at Europe's most exclusive clubs and Aguero plays for one with demonstrable ambitions to exist in that bracket.
But considering Real Madrid's squad stasis and Paris Saint-Germain remodelling their forward line recently – Aubameyang joining England's sixth best team at present feels odd in these circumstances, while speaking volumes for the money on offer in the Premier League and Arsene Wenger's persuasive powers.
Madrid are reportedly drawn towards one of Aguero's countrymen, Mauro Icardi, as Karim Benzema's toils continue. Aguero's status as a former Atletico star would have complicated any switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, while the prospect of him linking up with his great friend Lionel Messi on the other side of the Clasico divide has barely ever been deemed worthy of a mention.
Where Aubameyang and Aguero are ranked within the current era will be settled by what they do over the coming months and years at Arsenal and City. The Gunners' generally distant proximity from Premier League title races and Guardiola's desire to add more forward firepower represent significant bumps in the road. For now, Sunday at Wembley represents an enticing next step for two would-be greats.
116 - Only Friedhelm Konietzka has a better minutes per goal ratio in the #Bundesliga for @BVB than @Aubameyang7 (116 mins/goal, minimum 10 goals). Gunner. #DeadlineDay @Arsenal pic.twitter.com/6w7LgxViyH— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) January 31, 2018
Most goals across Europe's 'big five' leagues since 2013-14 (all competitions)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 231
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 222
Luis Suarez (Liverpool/Barcelona) 172
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund/Bayern Munich) 167
Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain) 160
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 151
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain) 150
Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli/Juventus) 143
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/Arsenal) 142
Neymar (Barcelona/PSG) 133
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 132
Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao) 122
Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon/Arsenal) 122
Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad/Atletico Madrid) 116
Romelu Lukaku (Everton/Manchester United) 108
Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona/Arsenal/Manchester United) 102
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) 100
- Using data from the list above compiled by Opta, Aguero's return of a goal every 100.31 minutes is the fourth best in Europe over the period in question. Only Ronaldo and Messi dip below better than 100 minutes per goal.
- Aubameyang is one of only five players listed to score with more than 20 per cent of his goal attempts, out-performing the likes of Lewandowski, Messi, Kane, Higuain and Ronaldo.
- Evidence of Aguero's clinical tendencies can be found in Opta's expected goals (xG) data for this season. His 21 Premier League set against an xG of 15.4 is a bigger over-performance than any other player in the division.