Manchester City Need to Prioritise Long-Term Success Over Short-Term Gain With Sergio Agüero
Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero is nearing the end of his ninth season in English football, and what a servant he’s been.
The Argentina international is on course to hit 20 league goals for the seventh time in his nine Premier League campaigns, and currently sits fourth in the league’s all-time top goalscorers chart.
Aguero tussles with United man Luke Shaw
While Agüero’s brilliance in a City shirt has undoubtably spearheaded their unrelenting charge to domestic silverware over the past nine seasons, his dominance has brought about the demise of some quality strikers.
City have tried desperately to bolster their attacking arsenal and provide a suitable replacement for Agüero when needed. Big-money signings such as Edin Džeko, Álvaro Negredo, Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetić have all arrived at the Etihad with a sound pedigree, yet soon found themselves heading for pastures new as the realisation that they would always be second best began to set in.
The latest individual to be granted the ‘second best to Sergio’ parking spot at the club’s training complex is Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazil international arrived at City in January 2017, and while his 92-league appearances out of a possible 133 since his Premier League debut suggest he’s become a vital cog in Pep Guardiola’s side, his minutes-per-game ratio tells a different story.
Jesus celebrates with the man he hopes to dislodge as City’s number one striker
The former Palmeiras man has averaged just 35 minutes-per-game since arriving in England, as Agüero’s consistency threatens to take another scalp.
However, while the likes of Džeko and Negredo were understandably moved on with no chance of displacing the Argentinian hitman, Agüero is now at a very different point in his career, and Guardiola needs to think long and hard about his number one striker in the coming months.
It seems ludicrous to argue that a forward with 23 goals in 30 games in all competitions should be dropped, but at 32 years of age Agüero is nearing the twilight of his career. At the other end of the scale is Jesus, who at 23 is approaching a critical point in his career, and if he holds hopes of being considered Brazil’s number one striker, he must first of all be top dog at club level.
It’s not as though City’s second-choice striker is someone they’ve plucked out of a local Sunday league team. Despite some fleeting appearances, Jesus boasts an impressive record of 37 goals in his 92 Premier League appearances.
Often what sets a great striker apart from the rest is the ability to keep a cool head under pressure – something Agüero has displayed countless times throughout his City career – and Jesus proved with his last ditch effort against Southampton in 2017/18 that he’s got the composure to make it at the top level.
Jesus proves he’s got the nerve to make it at the top with his last ditch effort at Southampton
With the clock ticking down in City’s final game of the season and the dream of becoming the first ever club to tally 100 points in the Premier League disappearing, Jesus showed the coolest head in the stadium as he gently lofted the ball over the onrushing Alex McCarthy, crowning City centurions.
Guardiola is not a short-sighted manager. While the promise of future success isn’t enough to keep a manager in a job in modern-day football, the City boss knows the importance of nurturing youth. While he may not get as much game time as some may like, Guardiola’s constant praise of Phil Foden is enough to prove that the former Barcelona boss is well aware of the need to look to the future.
Agüero is a scintillating footballer, and he most probably will be for a few years to come, but in two years’ time Gabriel Jesus won’t be sat waiting for his opportunity on the Manchester City bench, and that’s something the Citizens need to be mindful of.