New Straits Times
All-rounder Aguero better than ever for Guardiola
Manchester: Sergio Aguero’s next goal will his 200th for Manchester City, but it is the Argentine’s willingness to do much more than just score that has won the confidence of his manager Pep Guardiola.
The Catalan embraced Aguero in a bear hug as he left the pitch having ran himself into the ground in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, which edged City to within four wins of the Premier League title.
It was the first time in eight home games Aguero had failed to find the net, but that mattered little to Guardiola, who is now seeing the all-round game from Aguero he demands of his strikers.
“Since we were together here with Sergio, I think the last month, two months is the best Sergio I have seen,” said Guardiola, preparing his team for the visit of Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Those words contrast sharply with a reportedly frosty relationship between the coach and his star striker during Guardiola’s trophyless first season in the northwest of England.
Aguero, 29, still scored 33 goals in all competitions, more than he ever had for City in a single season, but often found himself on the sidelines in the second half of the season as Guardiola opted instead for Gabriel Jesus.
Aguero has also been aided by injury to Jesus. The Brazilian suffered medial ligament damage to his left knee on January 31 and has only returned with three short cameos off the bench in the past week.
During Jesus’s two-month layoff, Aguero doubled his tally for the season to move onto 30 goals and re-establish himself as City’s number one striker.
Yet, for all his goals and all he has achieved since arriving in Manchester in 2011, Aguero is still to taste Champions League glory.
Guardiola’s team look assured of progress to the quarter-finals at the Etihad, with the luxury of a 4-0 win against their Swiss opponents in the first leg of their last-16 tie.