As Sergio Agüero surpasses Thierry Henry to become the highest-scoring foreigner in Premier League history, COPA90 assesses whether the Argentine can be classed as English football’s greatest ever import.
“He needs to improve. He finished playing the Copa America five weeks ago and is not 100% at the moment.” The logic behind Roberto Mancini reluctance to throw Sergio Agüero straight into the starting line-up seemed sound, but by the game’s end, it was clear the Argentine needed no easing in.
A blistering 31-minute cameo was all it took for Agüero to put the contest well beyond Swansea’s reach. A debut brace and assist off the bench began to explain why Manchester City – with a squad already boasting the striking exploits of Edin Džeko, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli – saw fit to part with a club-record £38m to sign the striker.
Agüero’s talent is often downplayed in some quarters of the media. The vast wealth of his employers, coupled with the sheer number of chances his teammates create for him, combine to belittle just how good he really is.
He’s never won a Premier League Player of the Year award, has failed to capture any major international accolades, and some beg to argue he’s not even City’s greatest foreign import. And yet, the goals keep coming.
Three strikes against Aston Villa on Sunday demonstrated just how lethal the striker can be. It was his twelfth Premier League hat-trick – a record in its own right – and took his overall league tally to 177 across eight-and-a-half wonderful seasons in English football.
Agüero is a bit like a hard-hitting prize fighter: attacking his opposition with raw pace and power. Once on the scoresheet, rarely does he let up, regularly going for the jugular. This goes some way to explaining Agüero’s hat-trick hauls. If he senses blood, he’s relentless.
“People forget THAT Agüero goal was at the end of his debut season. To follow it up with three more league titles, record-breaking numbers, consistently scoring in big games and now becoming the league’s top foreign goalscorer says all you need to know about his ability.”
Tom Pennington, Manchester City season ticket holder
With that in mind, one may find it tempting to write him off as a flat-track bully. But then there’s the other incessant aspect of Agüero’s game: his record against the big six. No active player has scored more against them. This is both a measure of Agüero’s impact and his longevity that he continually thrives on the biggest stages. So why is he not held in higher regard?
Perhaps Agüero is a victim of circumstance:
‘He’s just one of many top strikers to come through Atlético Madrid’s ranks’
‘Anyone can look good for Argentina with Messi next to them’
‘He’s managed by Pep Guardiola, of course he’s great.’
Agüero may not be the clear-cut best foreigner ever to grace the Premier League, but dismissing him from the conversation entirely is foolish. This is the man whose goals have carried Manchester City to multiple league titles; the man who has overcome injury time and time again; the man that breathes fear into every team he faces.
“The best foreign player to ever play in the Premier League. A great centre-forward with no weaknesses.”
Alan Shearer, Premier League all-time record goalscorer
Still only 31 years of age, there’s a growing feeling that Agüero will play at least a full decade of Premier League football and go on to set an insurmountable record for his overseas peers to catch.
The striker is still some way off catching Alan Shearer’s record, admitting to Sky Sports that: “he has too many goals so I don’t know.” Wayne Rooney’s second-placed tally of 208 goals, however, will surely be firmly in his sights.
Whether it’s Villa Park or Old Trafford, Sergio Agüero has proven no opponent is safe, even on a cold rainy night in Stoke.