Football over the years has always created debate among frenetic followers who believe that their opinion is correct, that the statistics always back up the argument and there’s no other way to compare. That’s why when the best players have their names cast on the debate table, there’s usually no definitive answer.
It’s also why sitting here typing this, it was difficult to ignore the sheer numbers that give Sergio Agüero a worthwhile mention. The Argentine is continually leaving his mark on a league that can’t seem to wrap its head around how he can be stopped, or where he sits in the conversation of the best players to have graced the Premier League.
Such has been Agüero’s rise from his debut against Swansea in 2011 that the numbers are hard to look away from. In Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Eithad Stadium, Aguero scored his 155th, 156th 157th Premier League goals in only his 227th appearance. He now has 14 goals this season, and also registered his 10th league hat-trick, now only second to Alan Shearer who ended on 11, and sits 8th on the all-time goal scorers’ list.
All hail King Kun, arguably the best goal-scoring foreign import the Premier League has ever seen, and the best piece of business under the trophy-laden City juggernaut that launched over a decade ago. He has been a model of consistency for such a long time, it’s difficult to see how he hasn’t found himself donning the white of Real Madrid or the stripes of FC Barcelona.
But that’s just it – he hasn’t had to make such moves to prove he is the real deal. City have had the pleasure of seeing his supreme qualities since that £38-million move from Atletico Madrid.
That figure seems so miniscule in the current inflated market, as of to say his was a bargain of some sorts, the kind of money you spend to get a Lamborghini Gallardo at a cut price.
And as he found himself in similar positions for his three-goal haul against Arsenal, the flickering memories began to roll in the mind – that chest and volley from Thierry Henry against Manchester United, or Luis Suarez’s mesmerizing performance against Norwich City, or Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick against Portsmouth.
“City have had the pleasure of seeing his supreme qualities since that £38-million move from Atletico Madrid.”
Because these are the caliber of players that Agüero is threatening at the very top, if not surpassing year by year, goal by goal, in his quest to become the outright best.
Under three different managers in Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola, Agüero has shown us, time and time again, that he is the real deal. All have won titles with him as their main man, and may not have won the rave reviews they’ve had if he wasn’t around.
And to the betterment of City’s journey to becoming an all-round European elite, it’s also been good for the league to have such world class talent in its ranks, to boast and brim with joy at the quality of a player who hasn’t lost his step, even when injuries threaten to derail him.
This is where it gets tricky. In as much as he has been able to work towards being the supreme centre forward of his time in Manchester, how can we ignore the exploits of aforementioned Suarez, Henry and Ronaldo?
All brought something to the table – Suarez’s all-round forward play, Henry’s world-class finishing and Ronaldo’s invention. In as much as statistics can point you in one direction, there are also those glittering moments of magic that leave you wanting more.
So, what we see is just as important as what we can put in numbers. Agüero will not sit at 8th forever, and his goal scoring won’t, presumably, suddenly vanish. But how many of his appearances really take your breath away and make you sit up to attention?
This is probably where Suarez, Henry and Ronaldo flourish The numbers are there for them, too. Agüero would definitely fit in a “Top Five Best Foreign Players” list somewhere, but when will be confident enough to say that he, indeed, is the very best the league has seen?
At 30 years of age, he won’t be around forever, but when all is said and done, who could argue that he wasn’t the outstanding foreign import to have laid those Puma boots on the slick grass of the Etihad, or any other ground for that matter, in the entirety of the league’s existence?
He’ll continue on his merry way with an way trip to Everton, and then a decisive home tie against Chelsea, and then 11 games after that. With a bit of silver in his hair, Agüero will leave a trail of destruction until its time to say goodbye.
Maybe then, we’ll close the book on this, never needing to debate it again as we speak with pride of his undeniable pedigree as the one who stands above them all.