The under-appreciation of Sergio Aguero in England is illustrated perfectly by his place in the Daily Telegraph’s list of the 100 best players in the history of the Premier League last summer. There he is – sandwiched between Ian Wright and Matt Le Tissier – at No. 35. As Le Tissier said in August that he believed Arsenal would win the title with Aguero leading the line, we can assume even he would question the logic of being ranked higher than a man who had recently become the second-fastest scorer of 100 Premier League goals.
Aguero has two Premier League titles and a Golden Boot but has never been picked in a PFA Team of the Year nor received a FWA award. Robin van Persie (27th in that Telegraph list) has fewer titles and a far inferior goalscoring record and yet he has been named in two PFA teams and won Player of the Year awards from both players and journalists. Ask anybody outside England which is the better footballer and they will point you towards the man with 113 Premier League goals in 168 games.
Now, with Aguero’s place under threat from the arrival of Pep Guardiola’s own personal Jesus, there are back-page tabloid headlines and broadsheet think pieces about the Spaniard’s ruthlessness, but the Argentine could be wondering why there was so little love during five ridiculously prolific years.
Football greatness cannot purely be measured in goals but it is a handy metric when it comes to strikers, and Aguero’s record of a Premier League goal every 109 minutes is better than any other player on any ‘greatest’ list. For comparison, Thierry Henry notched every 121 minutes and Ruud van Nistelrooy every 128 minutes.
It’s no surprise to see those two at the top of a recent list of the 100 best Premier League imports but where is the striker whose record surpasses theirs? In tenth of course, below Ronaldo, Patrick Vieira, Didier Drogba, Dennis Bergkamp, Sami Hyypia, Jaap Stam and Luis Suarez. The latter scored fewer goals at a less impressive rate and was found guilty of using racist language and biting a fellow footballer and yet he left England with more individual awards and plaudits than Aguero will ever muster.
The clue is perhaps in that list of nine footballers containing three Arsenal, three Manchester United and two Liverpool players. The global fanbases of those three clubs in total are greater than the rest of the Premier League put together, and media coverage is understandably skewed in their favour; only a growing Chelsea following in Africa threatens that tripoly. We know ourselves that writing about Manchester City will garner only a fraction of the clicks as a piece about their red neighbours. If you’re still reading this, then thank you.
There is probably a trickle-down effect where a lack of media coverage in turn effects the thoughts of neutral fans and even footballers; we saw in 2009 how a concerted newspaper campaign led to Ryan Giggs receiving the PFA Player of the Year gong in a season when he had started only 12 Premier League games. Being foreign and a reluctant self-publicist playing for a club outside the all-powerful Big Three has left Aguero in the bizarre position of being simultaneously among world football’s most revered strikers but underrated in the country that should have felt blessed to host him for at least six seasons.
Had Aguero scored 113 Premier League goals in 168 games for Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool then he would leave these shores a legend. Had Aguero been English and scored 113 Premier League goals in 168 games then he would never leave these shores and instead spend his days gazing at a statue of himself erected outside Wembley. As an Argentine 113 Premier League goals in 168 games for Manchester City, he will leave as that bloke who wasn’t quite as good as Sami Hyypia.