Updated: March 31, 2021 7:51:31 am
Sergio Aguero, the last member remaining of the core of Manchester City’s greatest team, is set to leave the club at the end of this season. The Argentine will forever be immortalised in Premier League history for the goal that decided, deep in injury time of the final match of the campaign, the title race between the Citizens and their neighbours from across the town. It would give a huge impetus to City’s drive to be one of the best football clubs in the world.
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At the heart of the club’s success was a core of players who transformed its fortunes in a matter of years. Yaya Toure was signed from Barcelona for £24 million. David Silva was brought in from Valencia for £26m. And then there was Aguero. A proven striker, City paid £35m to Atletico Madrid for his services.
A short frontman who relied on a low centre of gravity, deft touch and a rasping right-foot – Aguero’s arrival provided a window into how City wanted to play. Not the then classic English way of taller marksmen, looping crosses and pitched battles in the box, but the refined end product of a beautiful move through the middle of the park. Today, the Argentine stands at 181 goals for the club and is the top goal scorer in its history. And yet there will always be one goal for which he will be remembered more than any other.
That day, that moment
On the final day of the 2011-12 season, Manchester United needed to win their game away at Sunderland to stay in the title hunt, which they did. If Manchester City won at home against Queens Park Rangers, they would take the title on goal difference. City were on the verge of throwing the crown away before goals in injury time from Edin Dzeko and Aguero just won them the trophy in the most astonishing manner. Before then, Manchester City had spent big money in one transfer window after another without much success at dethroning Alex Ferguson’s United. But after the 2011-12 title, City became a behemoth, now managed by Pep Guardiola and easily one of the best Premier League teams of all time.
Any modern-day footballer would do well to pore through Aguero’s career and in particular, the advances in injury management that has been the backbone of his success. Forever cursed with niggling injuries, the 2014 World Cup finalist has managed to return and hit top gear almost instantly. His goals have always come in short, but deadly bursts – a testament to his ability in coming to the party for City come what may.
The latter years
In the past few seasons, City have tried to experiment with different players and combinations in an effort to replace their talismanic striker. While Aguero was ever-present, players like Gabriel Jesus were given ample game time to prove that they could be the answer to the question, ‘What after Aguero?’, but none of them ever turned out to be the prolific goal-scorer that Guardiola required. It has only been in the past couple of seasons that the Spaniard relied more on his attacking midfielders for goals. That and recent injuries and long layoffs essentially signalled that it was now time for Aguero to move on.
What next for Aguero and City?
While it is unknown where Aguero’s next destination could be, City’s target to replace him is one that most top clubs in the world are chasing. Borussia Dortmund striker Erling-Braut Haaland already has 34 goals in 36 games for the German club and his father was once a Man City player. Haaland Jr has also played under current United manager and fellow Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Molde. Both United and City will be chasing the striker’s signature this summer.
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