Sergio Aguero, who will always be associated with a single gilded moment in Manchester City’s history, is starting his long goodbye from the club with his position secure as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats.
Fans in the blue half of Manchester are coming to terms with the impending departure of the 32-year-old striker, who will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Aguero joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, three years after the club was taken over by Abu Dhabi owners, and will leave after 10 trophy-laden years as the club’s record goalscorer, with 257 goals in 384 games so far.
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Aguero’s problems with injuries and illness this season mean he has made just 14 appearances and he has scored just three times.
But former City defender Micah Richards, who won the title alongside Aguero in the 2011/12 season — believes the Argentine still has a lot to offer.
“Unless you get (Kylian) Mbappe, (Erling) Haaland or (Harry) Kane, what striker are you going to get to replace him? You get another year out of him,” Richards told the BBC.
City have been linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund hotshot Haaland, who is one of the most coveted players in world football, and Kane could be another option.
Sky Sports football columnist Paul Merson wrote that Manchester City must have a replacement lined up to let Aguero go.
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“They must be bringing in a big name like an Erling Haaland, a Harry Kane or a Kylian Mbappe,” he wrote.
“Otherwise, how do you not keep hold of Aguero? It’s impossible not to keep him. He’s a goal machine!”
He added that Haaland, Kane and Mbappe all have different qualities that would make them appealing options for City.
“Personally, I think Haaland is the out and out goalscorer, but for me, Kane and Mbappe bring more to the party,” he added.
“If you want someone who is going to come in and link up with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva, then you are looking more at Kane and Mbappe.
“But if you just want a goal scorer like Aguero, a goal machine, then I think you go for Haaland.”
Southampton striker Danny Ings was also reported last week to be a cost-effective option being considered by City.
With Haaland’s market value understood to be around £100m ($A180m), Ings had been pinpointed as a more realistic option.
He is about to enter the final year of his current deal and has not agreed to new terms.
Aguero himself is adamant his departure does not mean the end of the story for him personally.
Barcelona are reported to be potential suitors and the Argentine has also been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter Milan.
Barcelona are reportedly heavy favourites to sign him given newly-elected club president Joan Laporta said earlier in the year he would sign Ageuro if his campaign was successful.
Playing with Barcelona would also allow Aguero to link up with long-time friend Lionel Messi.
City, for their part, hope to have thousands of fans back in their stadium as Covid-19 restrictions are eased — in time to say farewell to Aguero and give a fitting send-off to one of their true greats.
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