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Is Sergio Aguero Premier League's most underrated, under-appreciated player of all time?

Mehul Gupta
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 19 Jan 2020, 11:32 IST

Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero's brace against Crystal Palace took his tally to 20 for the season

If one begins to count the number of accolades Sergio Aguero has to his name, days will turn into nights. The 31-year-old superstar is Manchester City’s top goal-scorer of all time (251 goals), the Premier League’s highest-scoring foreign player and holds the record for the most number of hat-tricks and the best minutes-per-goal ratio in Premier League history. He’s also managed a 30-plus goal-haul in five of the eight seasons he has completed in England. The above-mentioned five statistical achievements could well and truly give any footballer legendary status, but why is Aguero not given the praise he deserves outside of the blue half of Manchester?

Golden run

The Argentine forward joined Roberto Mancini’s resurgent Manchester City team for a then-massive price-tag of £38 million. And he took no time to settle as his debut game against Swansea City was a mere substitute appearance which included an outside-of-the-box pile-driver, an audacious flick to set David Silva up and a trademark poacher's goal in the dying minutes of the match to round off a stunning start to life in England. Aguero has not looked back once since then.

Nine years later, after scoring 251 goals and providing 72 assists in all competitions for City, which includes that earth-shattering title-winning goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011/12 season, hat-tricks against Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester, scoring five in a single Premier League game against Newcastle, four Premier League titles, four League Cups, three Community Shields, one FA Cup, Golden Boot for the 2014/15 season and more, Sergio Aguero is still not revered and respected as one of the best players the game has ever seen. 

The Champions League trophy still haunts Sergio Aguero
The Champions League trophy still haunts Sergio Aguero's illustrious career

Detractor speak

If you ask non-Blues, the first thing they’d say is the fact that Aguero has not won a Champions League trophy and that his record in Europe is not the best. 34 goals and 8 assists in 57 Champions League appearances for Manchester City, however, tells you a different story altogether. Yes, Aguero has not won the world’s biggest club competition yet, which he might as well win in his final two seasons, but his numbers definitely don’t lie. Others would say that the fact that Aguero has always had high-profile players like Yaya Toure, David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, some of the Premier League’s best midfielders, around him to assist his incredible goal tally. But many forget how he had already scored a century of La Liga goals for Atletico Madrid at the age of 22. 

The former son-in-law of Diego Maradona has not been the most outspoken footballer in the game which reflects in the fact that he is still not fluent in English despite living in the country for the better part of a decade. He is not the most flamboyant or the most active athlete on social media, and is not even one of the top five highest-earning players of the Premier League. In fact, manager Pep Guardiola lauded the striker for his personality which, according to him, makes him an even better player.

Pep Guardiola has made Aguero an even lethal finisher during his time at City
Pep Guardiola has made Aguero an even lethal finisher during his time at City
“Replacing him will be one of my biggest challenges because he is irreplaceable. I've never seen such a big star be so humble and funny. He accepts my decisions when it sometimes doesn't work for him. Big stars don't do that. I've worked with other stars who believed they were bigger than Sergio when they weren't and they were more difficult to handle and to be with. It's not easy to find a guy with his status, his personality and what he's done in his career with his humility. He is a joy to work with,” he said in an interview.

Even former City defender Micah Richards, in an article for BBC, stated, “His goal-scoring record is just incredible, and so is his attitude. For someone who is a genuine superstar, he is so humble — and he is the nicest man you will ever meet.”

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The former Independiente man has had significant interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona over the years, and given that his best bud Lionel Messi plays for the latter, it would not have been a surprise if he had packed his bags for one of the Spanish giants.

But the forward has always stayed loyal to Manchester City, to its fans and even to its managers. It is not a secret that Guardiola was not his biggest fan in his first year at the club. A hungry Brazilian teenager in Gabriel Jesus took up Aguero’s position in the starting XI with reports surfacing about how the Argentinian failed to adapt to Pep’s methods and philosophy. 

Gabriel Jesus still has a long way to go in a City shirt if he wants to reach Aguero
Gabriel Jesus still has a long way to go in a City shirt if he wants to reach Aguero's standards

Determination pays

But Aguero stayed put, fixed his relationship with the manager and transformed himself into an even more lethal striker under the Catalan, such is his tenacity and determination to succeed. Aguero has since then spearheaded City to records no one even began to imagine: An unprecedented domestic treble, a record 100-point league season as well as helping them become the first team to clinch back-to-back Premier League trophies since 2009. On a personal level, Aguero has been Guardiola’s go-to man in front of goal, with the striker scoring an incredible 115 goals in three-and-a-half-years during Pep’s managerial reign. 

However, he has been snubbed for both domestic and international awards repeatedly. He has never won the PFA Premier League Player of the Year despite his unparalleled consistency and outstanding goalscoring records. In fact, no Manchester City player has ever held that record despite the club winning four out of the last eight Premier League titles. The club has been under constant scrutiny and unnecessary criticism since the Abu Dhabi United Group takeover in 2008. In fact, it was at the end of the historic 2017/18 season that Aguero got included in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time ever. Many would go onto say that the forward has only one English Golden Boot to his name, which is why he might be overlooked for personal prizes. 

Whereas one does not see how Aguero has managed to maintain an almost ridiculous level of consistency over the years. He is the most efficient goalscorer in Premier League history, ruffling the net on an average of every 105 minutes, ahead of legends like Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.  Aguero has scored the most goals against four of City’s big-six rivals which are among the top seven clubs. He has also bagged a goal or more against 32 of the 33 sides he has faced in the Premier League, only barring Bolton. Of the 179 Premier League goals he has scored for Manchester City, most recently the double against Crystal Palace, 46 are match-winners. And the list goes on and on. 

Despite injury problems each year, the City talisman has scored 30+ goals in five of the last eight seasons
Despite injury problems each year, the City talisman has scored 30+ goals in five of the last eight seasons

Aguero has managed to achieve all of this despite getting injured on 15 different occasions during his City career. As a result, he has missed more than 60 games due to getting sidelined with injury problems. Come 2021, barring any injuries, we might see Sergio Aguero break into the Premier League 200-club alongside Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer. Maybe only then will people realise what a phenomenal player he has been. And if he plans to extend his contract beyond that, who’s to say that he cannot give Shearer a run for his money.

Well, Sergio Aguero might not be considered as one of the best footballers of all time or even the best player the Premier League has ever seen, but he is surely one of the most incredible goal-scorers in footballing history. Because if a player is scoring a goal nearly every week, or even a hat-trick here and there, is considered “normal”, one might begin to wonder what exceptional even means. 

Published 19 Jan 2020, 11:32 IST
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