In a photo taken on March 12, 2006, Sergio Aguero of Independiente celebrates after scoring against River Plate during their Argentine Clausura football tournament in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires. File/Agence France-Presse
Sergio Aguero is “irreplaceable in the souls, in the hearts, in the minds of our fans,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said of the club’s record goalscorer who is to leave at the end of the season.
Aguero joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, three years after the club was taken over by Abu Dhabi owners, and will leave after 10 trophy-laden years, with 257 goals in 384 games so far.
Guardiola said 32-year-old Aguero’s goals tally could be surpassed one day, but what he means to the club was unique.
“Sergio is irreplaceable,” said Guardiola.
“I could say in terms of numbers he can be replaceable, it’s not easy when you see more than 360 games played and more than 250 goals, the amount of titles (he has won).
“So it’s the legend, the best striker this club has ever had for this century through the years, but is irreplaceable in the souls, in the hearts, in the minds of our fans, of our people, of the players that played alongside him and all the managers who worked with him.”
Guardiola said he felt blessed when he took over as manager in 2016 to have such stalwarts as Aguero at the club.
“We were so lucky, the guys who came after him -- me as a manager for example,” he said.
“We took over the club and he was one of the guys like Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, many players helped this club make a step forward and of course he was one of them.”
Guardiola said the Argentinian had been pivotal in helping City become a domestic football superpower after decades of living in city rivals Manchester United’s shadow. Aguero’s most memorable moment for City fans will remain a goal scored in the final game of the 2011/12 season.
Manchester United were seconds away from celebrating yet another Premier League title, prolonging the agony of their neighbours, who had not been crowned English champions since 1968.
But Aguero had other ideas, receiving the ball from Mario Balotelli and thundering home a finish to secure a 3-2 victory against QPR and send the Etihad into raptures.
“When he came here the club was in one level, and he helped to put the club in a higher level,” Guardiola said.
“Of course the fans always will be grateful.”
This season, though, has been a struggle for Aguero. He had knee surgery in the close season. A hamstring problem complicated his comeback and then he had to sit out a month after a coronavirus infection.
However, with City bidding for a historic quadruple trophy sweep -- Aguero looks all but certain to share in a fifth league title -- Guardiola says the Argentine has time to sign off in style.
“I think he still has interesting goals to score this season,” said Guardiola.
AGUERO WANTED BY INDEPENDIENTE: Manchester City star Sergio Aguero is wanted by Independiente, the Argentine club’s coach Julio Falcioni revealed on Tuesday.
Runaway English Premier League leaders City announced on Monday that Aguero, 32, would leave the club at the end of this season.
And record seven-time Copa Libertadores winners Independiente are trying to tempt the Argentine back to his hometown club.
“We’re calling him to see if he’s interested. It would be a pleasure to manage him again,” said Falcioni, who is in his second stint as the Red Devils’ coach having managed Aguero for one year during his first spell at the team based in Avellaneda, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Aguero is rumored to be on the hit list of some of Europe’s biggest clubs such as Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.
“Here, he won’t be able to sign something similar to what he earns there, but he would be back amongst friends, defending the colors he loves,” Falcioni told TyC Sports channel.
Aguero is a legend at Manchester City having scored the dramatic 94th-minute goal against Queens Park Rangers in May 2012 to give the club their first top flight title in 54 years -- even more satisfyingly at the expense of their great city rivals Manchester United. In a decade in Manchester he has helped the club win the Premier League title four times, with a fifth crown almost certain to be secured within the next two months.
He has been City’s all-time record goalscorer since 2017 and currently has 80 goals more than the next highest goalscorer, Eric Brook.
“The aim to call him will be to propose a return home, to the country, where he can be comfortable and help Independiente be better,” said Falcioni.
“We need to bring him back to this stadium, which is difficult. He’s a different type of player, the type we all want to manage and have in our team,” Falcioni added.
MARADONA’S SON-IN-LAW: Aguero made his debut in the red shirt of Independiente aged just 15 in 2003 and thus surpassed the late, great Diego Maradona as the youngest player to play in the Argentine top division -- a record that had been set in 1976.
A few years later, Aguero married Maradona’s daughter Gianinna, although the relationship, which produced a son, lasted only four years.