EPL

Guardiola targets free-scoring striker as Aguero bids farewell to Man City

By Sports Desk May 22, 2021

Pep Guardiola would love to bring a free-scoring striker to Manchester City, amid speculation surrounding Harry Kane, with Sergio Aguero saying goodbye to the club.

Aguero will leave City after next week's Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

The Argentine, who joined the club in 2011 and has gone on to become the Premier League's leading foreign goalscorer, as well as City's record scorer, has won five top-flight titles in Manchester.

Injuries have marred his final season, with the 32-year-old – who has reportedly agreed to join Barcelona – featuring for just 682 minutes across 18 appearances (eight starts) in all competitions.

Aguero faces a late fitness test to see if he will be able to play against Everton on Sunday, in City's final league game of the season, which will take place in front of 10,000 fans at the Etihad Stadium.

In Aguero's absence this term, and with understudy Gabriel Jesus not quite hitting the heights initially expected of him, Guardiola has often utilised a false nine system, with Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Kevin De Bruyne called upon to fill in up top.

It has served City well, Guardiola's team reclaiming the league title, winning their fourth straight EFL Cup and reaching their first Champions League final.

However, links to a new striker have not gone away, with Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland a mooted target, though Kane's recent comments about the possibility of leaving Tottenham will not have gone unnoticed. 

Kane added further fuel to the fire when, in an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, he declared his admiration for De Bruyne, labelling the Belgian playmaker a "striker's dream".

Pressed on possibly targetting a striker of Kane's ilk, Guardiola told a news conference: "I would love to have a guy who scores 50 goals.

"I would love it – but at the same I don't like just to have all the pressure on one player. Even at Barcelona Lionel Messi scored more than 50 goals every season, but in that team for example, in our first season Samuel Eto'o scored a lot.

"To win titles, especially the Premier League, the statistics speak for themselves, you need at least three guys [scoring] more than 10, 12, 15 goals to be competitors. But when you have a guy who scores 25 or 30, it helps a lot.

"We will try due to the way we play to have everybody involved in scoring goals – the more players we have with this quality the better we will be."

HOW HAVE CITY'S GOALS COME IN 2020-21?

With Aguero only managing four goals in all competitions – and just two from open play – the onus has been on other players to step up.

The standout in this regard has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has transformed himself into a superb attacking midfielder this term, scoring a team-high 17 times across all competitions, with the German averaging a goal every 194 minutes.

De Bruyne has tallied the most attempts (104), scoring nine goals and teeing up a further 17, while Riyad Mahrez is tied on 14 goals with Raheem Sterling.

Foden has netted 15 goals, all of which have come from open play. Torres and Jesus have both contributed 13, with John Stones and Bernardo Silva (both five) also chipping in with their fair share.

THE FINAL FAREWELL

It will no doubt be an emotional day for Aguero on Sunday, though he can take solace in the fact that there will be supporters on hand to wish him well.

"My message to the fans is: 'Thank you,'" Aguero wrote in a statement on the club's offciial website. "Thank you to the City fans for always supporting me.

"When you feel the love from your fans, everything is a lot easier. It's the same for anyone in any line of work – when someone believes in you, you do better. I owe a lot to the people at this club because I have the City fans to thank for everything.

"We have won a lot of games. I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved here. In the last games, I will do my best so that I can leave on a high.

"I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans."

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