Who’s this week’s hero, Johnny?
This week’s hero is a 31-year-old Argentinian striker who is in his ninth season in the Premier League with Manchester City and has also played for Independiente and Atletico Madrid. This week he scored a Premier League record 12th hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa.
A little bandy of chunky leg, a thoroughly unglamorous player, he does very few interviews and does not seek the limelight. He simply scores goals; lots and lots of goals.
With liquid dark chocolate brown eyes, he has sported some notorious haircuts that look like they were done by the council (yes, it’s an old Julian Clary joke), sometimes favouring the sort of bleach job that looks more the result of getting your mother to do it over the sink in the kitchen with some Domestos after she’s had a bottle of wine.
He was married to Gianinna Maradona, the daughter of the legendary handballer, for four years. Lionel Messi is his son’s godfather. Has a tattoo on his arm of his name written in Tengwar, which is a form of writing invented by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. Yeah, how do you like them literary apples? Oddly enough he does have some rather Hobbitty characteristics and it is easy to imagine he has very leathery pads on his feet.
He was responsible for the most dramatic moment in recent top-flight history in scoring the last-minute goal that won City the title in 2012, about which he said:
“It fell at my feet and I just thought: ‘Hit the target, hit it as hard as you can and hit the target.’ And it went in.”
On such basic instincts are legends formed. That sentence could stand as a definition for his career. Remarkably for such a prolific striker, he doesn’t win awards and the feeling that he still flies a little under the radar is widespread. That’ll be Sergio Leonel Agüero del Castillo, then.
What have they done to deserve this then?
His statistics are rather good and prove that he really is one of the stellar goalscorers of his generation. Obviously CR7 and Lionel Messi are on a different planet, but if they did not exist, Sergio’s numbers would look even more impressive.
However, as usual, the Premier League propaganda virus which has been uploaded to all of our synapses, making us respond to any footballing event by defining it against the chronological parameters it has set, for absolutely no reason at all other than to aggrandise their brand, actually plays down his achievements.
In the process of puffing up their brand by using their 27-year history as the blackboard on which to rewrite football history, they do not set any player’s achievements in the proper historical context. You can’t redefine 1992 as year zero, because it isn’t, but that is what they’ve done and what we’re all complicit in perpetuating. It fails to acknowledge player contributions before the league and outside of the league, which are often extensive. So the typical ‘in the Premier League era’ stats often understate achievements and do not provide accurate context.
Because his 177 Premier League goals is just the start of it. Sergio has 274 league goals in his career, 373 club goals overall and 414 in total when you add in international strikes. He’s actually scored 249 goals for City so far.
All of which goes to accidentally prove just what a phenomenal goalscorer Alan Shearer was on 283 club league goals and 260 in the Premier League.
Aguero has also been an excellent international player, netting 41 for Argentina in 97 games at a time when the national side has been extremely variable in quality. And his assists numbers are not too shabby either.
While he’s not suffered any major injuries, pretty much every campaign he’ll miss quite a few games, being out for between a week and a month and a half with recurring knee and hamstring problems in particular.
One of those strikers who, when presented with the briefest of chances or when bearing down on goal, you simply never expect to miss. At 5′ 8″ he’s hardly the biggest physical presence and yet seems built of pig iron and gristle while being agile and a specialist in perpetual movement. He just never seems to stand still.
Scores long-distance belters, occasional headers and plenty of penalties but mostly he’s a predator in the box and a specialist at the art of being in the right place at the right time and beating the defender to the ball by one stride.
Chases the ball down like a dog in the park, seemingly transfixed on it. Has the sort of powerful, meaty buttocks that means he’s hard to knock off the ball and guarantees any shot has plenty of petrol on it. Has fast, small feet that you suspect could unpick a lock.
Look at all his goals last year, marvel at his range of haircuts and see how many times he’s just there, just in the right place with those quick, well-developed little legs taking him ahead of the defence. That’s where his genius actually lies. Without great vision and timing, so many of these wouldn’t have been scored.
Anyone grumpy about it?
Aston Villa can’t have been happy to see him last weekend. But he’s a player who no-one really seems to actively dislike and one whose talent is so nakedly wonderful it needs celebrating.
It’s hard to take against a player who doesn’t have any side to him, who just turns up, does his job really well and goes home again. For a while it seemed he was set to be sidelined by Pep Guardiola who often benched him. But he wasn’t to be held down for long and proved he was an irresistible force who couldn’t be sacrificed. Many observers suggest he has actually improved his all-round game as a result of this challenge to keep his place. Guardiola, it is thought, would now be happy for him to stay on for another year or two beyond 2021. I guess you can’t replace guaranteed goals easily.
What the people say
As befitting someone who is really good and impossible to take against, there was a big postbag this week with fans of all clubs queuing up to lavish praise on our man.
Feather and hammer
Floats into space, shellacks balls
— 4_4_haiku (@4_4_haiku) January 16, 2020
‘The most underrated player in Premier League history.’
‘City’s most *loved* player.’
‘An absolute machine.’
‘Quite simply the best striker on the planet.’
‘Under-rated. But as a City fan, a good thing. Let him do his job and let other people praise too quickly the over-hyped and the burnt-outs.’
If you’re looking for a quirky angle John my wife is a barber and tells me so many kids these days ask for a ‘Sergio’. He has significantly helped raise City’s profile off the pitch too.
— Stephen Tudor (@SteTudor123) January 16, 2020
‘If you think he’s good at goals, check out his runs when was playing alongside Forlan at Atlético Madrid.’
‘Bizarrely and unfairly disrespected, almost hated, in Argentina, for being a member of the generation that promised so much and lost all those finals. Not his fault and they’re clearly wrong to hold it against him and all the others.’
‘Simply incredible striker.’
‘He seems to live football and nothing else, theres more hat trick balls in his apartment than sunlight.’
‘Respected by rivals. Last season Salah said in an interview ‘Everyone is saying Aguero is having his best season but he only has 2 more goals than me’ and even many LFC fans came to Aguero’s defence saying Salah was disrespectful.’
— अभिमन्यु (@abhimanyuafc) January 16, 2020
‘Too cool for school. Occasionally looks like he can’t be arsed with the whole thing, then he’ll give himself a nanometre of space and ping one in the top corner. If he has kids, they’re going to be effing amazing at footie with those genes.’
‘Divorced now, but imagine the pressure on his son: his dad is Sergio, grandad is Maradonna and godfather is Messi.’
‘Any fan that says they wouldn’t like him at their club is either lying or delusional.’
‘Never been so frightened of a player inside the box with the ball at his feet. Lethal.’
‘An absolute hero. The scorer of the goal of 21st century English football has become the unlikely guardian of some very traditional values. A one club (in this country) man who has become part of the furniture at City and in our league. His very familiarity may be why he doesn’t win awards. A man who simply loves playing football and takes a childlike pleasure in scoring goals. By the way, he is greedy to an almost hilarious extent. His English is good enough to help him communicate amazing moments. “No shoot Vinny” is a dream quote for an extraordinary moment. A superstar who is far happier chatting to fans in Manchester city centre than to journalists. A foreign player who positively demands to play on Boxing Day and in cup competitions. I so remember him captaining City in the second leg of the League Cup semi final at Burton when we were 9-nil up. He was proud to lead the team out and treated the match and opposition with total respect. We will miss him so much when he’s gone but that may be some time in the future. He likes living where he does and is motivated by records. 300 goals for City is possible and he may still want more after that. A true great.’
I got married on 10 Feb 2018 and as we welcomed evening guests a friend told me that Agüero had scored 4 goals. Sergio happened to be my captain in my Fantasy Football team. I’ll never forget that magical day, and my love will last for eternity.
— Bazroy99 (@bazroy99) January 16, 2020
‘Should be in every conversation for Premier League’s best ever striker. Underrated, in part, because he has not been a media darling or particularly flashy. He’s just pure effectiveness on the pitch.’
‘Every time I had him in my fantasy team he got injured, if I’d steered clear he’d have broken Shearer’s record already. Best PL striker of the last decade hands down.’
‘Responsible for the single most exciting football moment I’ve ever seen. Resulted in four of us (not City fans) piled on top of the one City fan in the room and shouting our heads off. I think I was 39 then. Felt like I was 10.’
‘I had a season ticket to Atleti during his final years there, when Forlán was on the way out and Agüero was establishing himself as a real force. The lift he gave the crowd was special; people knew he was world class and to enjoy watching him at the Calderon while they could.’
‘The fact that struck me is that he has scored 11 of his 12 PL hat-tricks since a United player did (van Persie in April 2013). Unfortunately facing him this weekend. Concerned of SE25.’
Underrated through so many years. He’ll be a Shearer figure for future generations. They’ll look back on his scoring record and think how? For example people talk about Kane breaking the scoring record but he’s not even close. Achievements thrive in hindsight.
— Cian Casey (@cian_west) January 16, 2020
‘First time doing this and don’t know why I’m compelled over Aguero, but he’s great. Admire his changing his game under Pep when many would take the easy road and leave. Also, a mate of mine has his haircut by the same barber in Oldham! Random but cool!’
‘He’s proof that if you do something so good for so long, people start to take it for granted and think it’s easy.’
‘Great striker. Still suffering PTSD from Aguerooooooo. One of the worst (footballing) days of my life and not sure I’ll ever get over it. Can’t see the goal without feeling nauseous. Wish he’d played for United instead.’
‘Although he’s an incredible player, he never lived up to his potential. If you watch him in Argentina and Spain, you could see he was a very different player. Did well adapting through his injury troubles.’
‘He’s robotic in his efficiency but also graceful in how he hits the ball. And those piercing eyes. Those eyes tell every defender: ‘You’re f**ked’.’
‘For what it’s worth, there are parallels with Shearer on how many injuries he’s come back from, and how he’s had to adapt his game as his career has progressed. What a player, long may he reign.’
‘In hundreds of games from 1976 to 2013 I never saw 1 striker as determined as Aguero not to let defenders have time on the ball. I’ve never, ever seen anyone as good.’
Really good at scoring goals.
— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) January 16, 2020
What does the future hold?
His contract is due to expire in June 2021, by which time our man will be 33. As previously mentioned, the opportunity for him to stay on at City is there if he wants it, though it seems likely he’ll move on. He’s talked of going back to Independiente, though MLS might offer a final pay day or two. Given he’s on £13 million a year and must surely already have more money than it’d be possible to spend, perhaps that would be superfluous to his requirements. His choice probably relies on how good his fitness is by then. He really will take some replacing though – and sales of hydrogen peroxide in the northwest will certainly take a hit.
As his manager has said: “He’s a legend, and it’s a part of history in the club. Aguero’s numbers speak for themselves – he is amazing.”
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