On Thursday 28th July, a day after first entering the Etihad Stadium, Sergio Aguero signed for Manchester City for a fee believed to be in the region of £38m, on a 5-year deal, taking the number 16 shirt. The man thought to be the replacement for Carlos Tevez was signed with his fellow countryman still very much at the club. This surely is a statement of intent by the club, if one were needed.
For City fans, this is as exciting a signing as one could have expected – the most thrilling since Robinho, though Aguero is surely the superior player. For a league that usually develops world-class players rather than buying them in ready-made condition, this is a departure from the norm. City fans will be hoping that he fulfils his promise, as the signs are very promising indeed.
Sergio “Kun” Aguero was born in Quilmes, Buenos Aires on 2nd June 1988. The second of seven children, he had a poor upbringing, playing football from an early age on the neighbourhood pitch, and often on the streets which is where he is quoted as saying he picked up many of his skills, and such toughness for a man of such a modest build (he is five foot seven and weighs 74 kilos). His Kun nickname was given to him by his grandparents due to his resemblance to Kum Kum, a Japanese cartoon character.
By the age of nine, he was playing for the junior team of Club Atlético Independiente, and he debuted for the first team aged fifteen – the youngest player to ever do so in the Argentine 1st division, beating the previous record held by a certain Diego Maradona. Having represented the Argentina team in the 2005 (and later in 2007) U-20 World Cup, by April 2006 he was ready to move on, and the following month he signed for Atlético Madrid.
From the day he first walked into the Vicente Calderón stadium, Aguero has been a hero to the Atlético Madrid fans. It’s not difficult to see why.
Agüero may not have matched his second season at the club (2007-08 when he was simply outstanding, taking Atlético to the Champions League for the first time in 11 years), but he has been remarkably consistent. In the last four years, Agüero has scored 68 league goals, not bad for a team that has had its highs and lows, and not bad for a player who has more to offer than goals alone.
For £38m, City have bought a striker with speed and lower-body power – he can leap 60 centimetres from a stationary position. He never shirks physical challenges. Capable of exploiting the tiniest of spaces in penalty areas and the biggest of spaces outside of them, he is skilful, quick and clever – a goalscorer and playmaker all rolled into one. Agüero played much of his Atlético career further forward than the striker Diego Forlán, but he can easily be played deeper, as he likes to run with the ball. Last season he attempted almost as many dribbles as the entire Manchester City team he was soon to join. In addition, Aguero scored in 7 consecutive league games last season – the only player to do so across Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Some may look at Aguero’s size and feel that the physical demands of the Premier League will be too much for him, but the Argentine international has shown incredible mental and physical fortitude, and was regularly kicked at and fouled in La Liga. He is quick (always a bonus in the Premiership) and blessed with wonderful technique and an incisive finish, and should flourish.
Aguero was extremely well paid at Atlético, rather dampening the inevitable claims that he has moved for the money, especially as it was reported Atlético offered similar wages in an attempt to keep him. And whilst he has talked of his desire to win trophies, he wasn’t totally without success in Madrid, with the 2010 Europa League and European Super Cup wins bringing silverware to the club. But what he didn’t have is the club with which he could progress further. What he had instead was a club run barely at all, that stumbled from disaster to triumph, from one problem to another, a club on a roller-coaster ride every week of its existence.
After being linked to a move away from Spain for the past two years, Aguero has finally left Atletico Madrid.
“Atlético have to respect my decision,” said Aguero, who had just had his best campaign at the club scoring 20 league goals, including a hat-trick against Mallorca on the final day of the season. And he has not been the only player to jump ship.
“It’s a great club, but you don’t have the consistency required on a director or football level,” admitted Liverpool’s Maxi Rodriguez, Aguero’s best friend in England, and another that left the Vicente Calderón to seek calmer waters.
Aguero has said he left details of where he went to his agent, but it is clear that his preference was always across town, and Real Madrid. This would pose some rather obvious problems – Aguero’s move to Manchester City has created a backlash amongst some Atlético fans, and the obligatory offensive banners and death threats from the spurned football fan. So you can only imagine the reaction if he had moved to Real. But once Real indicated they would not make a move (though they were interested in his services), and once rumoured interest from Juventus waned, City were the only club left – not that he will fail to embrace his new surroundings. He has spoken of his desire to play in the Premiership, and win trophies and help City grow.
Many players and managers/coaches have spoken highly of Aguero’s talents.
As Javier Mascherano once said: “Kun is dangerous because it’s impossible to know which way he is going to go. His dribbling is a 10 out of 10 and his imagination is too: he never does the same thing twice – he is always inventing something new.“
Ossie Ardiles has told City fans to expect great things from their new number 16: “He can play as a lone striker or he can play with another guy and come back and create things. He is very, very sharp. You give him one yard and that’s it, he’s gone. He’s quick and he’s clever. His vision is to score goals. If he has a little chance the ball will be in the net. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be wonderful in the Premier League.”
Spanish-based football reporter Graham Hunter may have used slight hyperbole when commenting: “He can become a player that resembles Lionel Messi. What City are getting is an electric talent that defenders in the Premier League will find it difficult to stop.”
Didier Drogba noted after playing against him a couple of years ago: “The only word I can use to describe Agüero is spectacular.”
The Atlético-supporting columnist Iñako Díaz-Guerra raved: “In 30 years, I’ve seen some great players, from Hugo Sánchez, to Torres, Futre, Caminero and Kiko, but none ooze excellence like Kun“.
Life in Manchester
Inevitably the comparisons will be made with his compatriot Carlos Tevez. On the pitch there are similarities, but while Aguero might not have the incessant workrate of Tevez, he is a more natural footballer with greater skills, according to Spanish League expert Sid Lowe. As already mentioned, he can also play further up the field than Tevez, who often prefers to drop deep and forage for the ball.
Off the field, there are even less comparisons to be made. Don’t expect Aguero to be moaning about the weather, lack of restaurants, or being homesick – it is not in his nature. He is happily married with a young son, and recently said, “Footballers who are content off the pitch are the most effective on it and I fall into this category. Giannina is the woman of my life, my support system. She grew up in the football bubble and knows all about it. That is an enormous help to me.
Football expert Tim Vickery when discussing the move recently said: “He is married. He has got a kid. He has got those things out of the way. I think this is a move which is happening at the right time.“
Graham Hunter has added: “This isn’t a guy who will be mincing around saying ‘not enough restaurants, can’t understand the accent, too cold in Manchester’. He is a real competitor, absolutely dedicated to bettering himself, winning and entertaining.“
Aguero’s signing of course gives the British press a new obsession – having spent a month comparing Chelsea’s new manager to Jose Mourinho, they can now turn their attention to Aguero’s father-in-law Diego Maradona. Expect his name to crop up on a daily basis, and comparisons to be made regularly.
The signing of Sergio Aguero is one of the most exciting in Manchester City’s history. He would be an excellent replacement should Carlos Tevez were to leave – and if he were to stay, City’s front line is obscenely talented. No foreign import can be guaranteed a success in the Premier League – big names have come and withered away before, but the initial signs are good that this grounded young man with immense talent can shine in the Premiership and become a huge star here.
Follow Howard Hockin on Twitter @howiehok34