The sound of the ball rattling the net, the roar of the stadium and Martin Tyler’s infamous “Aguerooooo.”
It was a moment no football fan will forget, especially those who are fans of either of the Manchester clubs. For the Citizens, Sergio Aguero became an icon with that moment and anything he did for the club beyond this would be a bonus, as that goal had already confirmed the Argentine’s status as a club legend.
On Monday, after months of speculation, the Manchester club and Aguero officially announced that the clubs record top scorer would be leaving the club ten years after signing from Atlético Madrid. He will be available as a free agent this summer, and one of his reported suitors, amongst others, are FC Barcelona.
The last three seasons have had a lot of ups and downs for the City legend, and it has ultimately concluded with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola feeling that the club had to move on from the striker.
Signing Aguero at present is a risk, but if Ronald Koeman can get the best out of the record-breaking striker, the rewards will certainly outweigh any that arise.
With that being said, here are the pros and cons of Barcelona signing Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero.
At 34 years old, Sergio Aguero would arrive at Barcelona with a wealth of experience under his belt. The Argentine has played at the highest level of the game for many years and has scored goals on the biggest of stages. The striker’s history in La Liga is a big bonus for Barça, as it reduces the settling in period for a player who will need to hit the ground running.
At present, Barça’s team consists of a nice balance between experienced and youth players and next season will be no different, as players such as Alex Callado, Alejandro Balde, and Ilaix Moriba are expected to be promoted to the first-team squad. Eric Garcia will also follow Aguero from Manchester City to add to the team’s youth and therefore bringing inexperienced players such as the Argentine provides Ronald Koeman with the perfect balance.
If Aguero joins the Catalan side, it is most likely that he will not play every week. Therefore the Argentine’s knowledge off the field and presence on the training ground becomes more valuable to Koeman and the younger players.
2. A legendary goal-scorer
From clutch last-minute strikes to rockets from outside of the box, Sergio Aguero has it all in his locker when it comes to scoring a goal.
Over the last ten years, the Argentine has cemented his place as Manchester City’s all-time top goalscorer, an accolade that will see him rewarded with a statue outside of the Etihad Stadium.
In 384 games for the Citizens, Aguero has scored 257 goals in all competitions. During his time in Manchester, City’s number ten has shown a combination of both calmness and ruthlessness in front of goal and combined his scoring abilities with solid hold up play and short passing. Qualities that will be welcomed at Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman is in desperate need of an out and out number nine, who can take some of the pressure off Lionel Messi when it comes to goal scoring. And who better than one of the best strikers of the previous decade. Antoine Griezmann is the Catalan sides next best goal scorer with 14 goals in all competitions, averaging a goal every 216 minutes, which is not good enough for a club of Barça’s size.
Successful sides need a multitude of scorers outside of their main man, and It is well known by now that Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta wants Erling Haaland to lead the line throughout his reign. This plan will most likely need to wait until next season, and in the meantime, the free transfer of Sergio Aguero provides a good solution to plugging this goal scoring gap the Blaugrana side are currently enduring.
3. Relationship with Lionel Messi
Sergio Aguero has had a very close relationship with Barcelona captain and fellow Argentine Lionel Messi for many years. In fact, reports claim that he prioritises sharing the field with Messi on a club-level more than anything else.
The pair were part of Argentina’s 2008 Olympic winning squad, as well as the 2005 U20 World Cup-winning team in the early parts of their careers. The friends have roomed together with the senior team ever since, and Aguero has said that after all these years, the pair are like an ‘old married couple’.
This would be another benefit of bringing the Argentine striker to Barcelona, as it could play a role in Messi staying.
If Joan Laporta could get the deal done before the end of the season and confirm it before the Barça legend makes his final decision, it would be another factor that would have to be considered by Barcelona’s record goalscorer.
If Messi ends up staying, having Aguero around would also be a plus. The pair have played together for many years, and they know each other’s games inside out. A happy Messi is a dangerous Messi, and if Cúles see the results of this signing play out positively on the pitch, they will undoubtedly welcome Aguero with open arms.
1. Father time is undefeated
Once players begin to enter their thirties in football, they will fall into one of two categories, the ones that show their age and the ones that do not. Sergio Aguero, over the last few years, has begun to drift into the former category, and it is the main reason why Pep Guardiola has excluded the Argentine striker from his future plans.
Although Aguero is still lethal in front of goal, the striker has slowed down noticeable over the last two years and is not as reliable or sharp as he once was. Apart from this season, the Argentine’s numbers do not show it, but stats do not always tell the full story, and this is the case with Manchester City’s number ten.
After letting Luis Suarez, a player who has proven to offer more than Aguero over the last year, go as a result of his age, it does not make any sense to go after a player in the same age bracket to fill a position that will be crucial to Barcelona’s future success. Instead of filling the role with a 34-year-old, it would be better for Barca long term to let Ansu Fati or a youth player take up the role in preparation to be a back up to Erling Haaland next season.
Father time is undefeated, and if Barcelona fans think they are getting a lethal 30 goals a season striker, they would have been mistaken as Aguero has not been that for some time now.
2. Concerning injury record
One of the reasons that Sergio Aguero has slowed down is the striker’s noticeable injury record.
Since the start of the 17/18 season, Aguero has picked up ten separate injuries and has missed a total of 62 matches because of the same. This is a worrying stat for Barcelona, as they cannot afford to have their main striker injured with very limited backups available next season.
As mentioned in the last point, Sergio Aguero will be 34 next season, and that fact is undoubtedly a major contributor to the striker’s woeful injury record.
This is a problem that will most likely continue next season due to concerns over the Argentines knee. In Barcelona’s current situation with regards to the nine position, and financially, it does not look like a risk worth taking.
3. Wages and bonuses
Sergio Aguero will arrive at Barcelona as a free transfer but that does not necessarily mean the striker will come cheap.
Aguero is Manchester City’s third-highest earner with a wage of £230,135 per week. The Argentine will certainly take a pay cut to join Barca, but it is hard to see that number being cut below the £150,000 mark, which is still a lot for the Catalan side to be dishing out in their current financial situation for a short term fix.
There are also bonuses to consider, such as a signing fee and goal bonuses. In total, the transfer could reach up to €10 million minimum and although this does not seem a lot, the money could be put to better use, such as a new contract for future star Álex Collado.
The signing of Sergio Aguero is a tricky one. A world-class talent who wants to join Barcelona and is available for free. On paper, it seems too good to be true. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it probably is, and this is certainly the case with the Manchester City striker. The future of Barcelona needs to be built with young, exciting talent. Aguero’s age combined with his recent injury record does not leave much room for error, especially if the Argentine is going to be relied on next season.
Joan Laporta does not have room for error at present, thanks to Josep Maria Bartomeu’s mistakes, and the president gains nothing from this deal, especially long term, and it is the long term future of the club the Spaniard needs to prioritise. If Erling Haaland has to wait another year, put Ansu Fati up top, use Ousmane Dembele and Fransisco Trincao on the wings, or promote someone from Barcelona B, whatever Ronald Koeman decides to do, it will be more reassuring in the long term than signing Sergio Aguero.
Copa Del Rey final: Forgetting El Clasico, Supercopa Final and more
What seemed very unlikely at one stage in Barcelona’s season is now just one game away from a trophy. Saturday sees Ronald Koeman’s men contest this season’s Copa del Rey final against a familiar foe in Marcelino and his Athletic Club side at the Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville, the scene of the Athletics’ manager’s most recent cup final triumph over the Catalan side.
The pair met in the Supercopa de España final back in January, with Athletic Club coming away from the tie as 3-2 winners after extra time. The defeat was a demoralising moment for Barça, as the Catalan side were just a minute away from victory until Asier Villalibre equalised.
Going into the final, Barcelona find themselves in another disheartening moment of the season after coming up short to bitter rivals Real Madrid in a 2-1 defeat in El Clasico, a result that could prove crucial in this season’s title race.
The potential of the season collapsing looms over the Catalan side, with doubt creeping into some of the players’ minds, with Jordi Alba being the first to express it.
Marcelino could not have asked for a better result to face Barcelona off the back of, as the Spaniard has a history of punishing dejected Barça sides. For Koeman’s men, the Clasico result must be swept aside because the manager in opposition dugout on Saturday provides a subtle reminder of what can happen if they fail to do so, the 18/19 season.
Forgetting El Clasico
“I don’t know, eh,” Jordi Alba’s words to Gerard Pique after Barcelona’s defeat to Real Madrid are simple, but those that know the place they are coming from know that they have the weight of fear and trauma behind them.
The conversation between the pair started with Pique stating “Relax, we will win [the cup final]” with the fullback replying “I don’t know, eh.” Unable to hear the centre back responds with “What?” before Barça’s fullback states again, “I don’t know [if we will win it].”
Alba’s doubt most likely casts back to the defeat in the Supercopa final, but in those words, “I don’t know” are the results of Anfield, the Valencia cup final, Bayern Munich and all the other setbacks the club have experienced in the last few seasons.
The 32-year-old knows the importance of El Clasico and the knock-on effect defeat can have in the weeks after, especially considering the importance of the latest chapter of the fixture.
Ronald Koeman cannot allow this psychological doubt to creep back into his team after doing phenomenally well to banish it over the last four months. There are positives to take from the weekend’s events, and it is here where the Dutchman can start to reaffirm the confidence shown throughout the Blaugranas’ 19 games unbeaten run.
Although the defeat was a setback in Barcelona’s pursuit of La Liga, focussing on the game itself, the difference between the sides was not that great.
It was a classic tale of two halves, with Real dominating the first with their counter attacks and Barça the second with their high positioning and possession. Koeman should find solace in the second-half performance, as his team came within the width of the crossbar of rescuing a point despite the added battle of monsoon-like conditions.
The match was somewhat ideal preparation for the final, as Athletic Club are also fantastic in transitions and are specifically very effective on both flanks of the pitch, areas of space that were exploited by Real. However, they are themselves in a sour spot, having already lost the Copa del Rey final 2020, against Real Sociedad, which was played no more than 2 weeks back.
Koeman will need to address this throughout the week, and it would not be a surprise if the Dutchman opted for four at the back for the cup final.
Another positive for Koeman is the timing of this cup final, as a result on each side of the coin could have an enormous effect on Barça’s season. Although defeat has the potential to ruin the Catalan sides season, there is no better way to bounce back from a defeat to Real Madrid than lifting a trophy, and it could be a springboard towards doing the double.
The problem for Koeman with addressing the doubts of Alba and others is not only the uncertainty left by the Clasico but the final of the Supercopa de España as well.
Expelling the Memories of the Supercopa Final
January seems a lifetime ago in terms of how Ronald Koeman’s team has developed over the months since. The formation has changed, Barcelona started winning big games, and a winning mentality has been firmly instilled in the squad. The Catalan club as a whole are moving in the right direction, and winning a trophy will somewhat symbolise this.
The Copa del Rey final will be the fourth time this season Barca have faced Athletic Club, winning two out of the three previous meetings.
Despite this, it is that single loss that has the potential to cause problems in the minds of the players on Saturday. The final of the Supercopa de España was the match that got away and reminded everyone in the squad of the embarrassing moments the club has experienced over the last three seasons.
Barça were one minute away from securing their first trophy since lifting La Liga in May 2019 until Asier Villalibre equalised to take the final to extra time. Iñaki William put Athletic Club’s name on the trophy with a wonderful strike leaving Koeman’s men dejected.
Jordi Alba’s doubts regarding this season’s Copa del Rey final most likely stems from this game, and if the full-back is thinking this way, there could be others as well.
Going into the final, Koeman must focus on the two wins the Catalan side have had over Marcelino’s men. The last time the sides met, Barcelona won the match 2-1 at the Camp Nou and performed brilliantly with the scoreline flattering the Basque side. Barca exploited Athletic Club on the wings and created multiple chances to score goals, with the winner coming from an Oscar Mingueza cross down the right.
Koeman can also turn to Athletic Club’s form for inspiration, with the Basque side winning only 4 of their last 14 matches. Within this run was a defeat in last years edition of the Copa del Rey final, in which Marcelino’s side lost to local rivals Real Sociedad 1-0.
At present, Barcelona are a much better side than Athletic Club. Form, head-to-head meetings, and the quality of players all fall in the favour of the Catalan side but having mentioned all this doubt, and how Koeman can address it, the fact is that there might still be some thanks to a recent encounter with the Basque side’s manager Marcelino.
The Ghost of the 2019 Final
In the 18/19 season, a Lionel Messi inspired Barca side were charging towards an unexpected treble at the start of May. With the league already wrapped up, two fixtures stood out within the final month of the season, a trip to Liverpool and the Copa del Rey final.
On the 7th of May, the infamous night at Anfield occurred, where Barcelona let a 3-0 lead from the first leg slip and failed to reach the Champions League final. The experience was confidence shattering and was not ideal with the cup final around the corner.
The 2019 Copa del Rey final was contested between Barcelona, and a Marcelino led Valencia. The Southeastern outfit won the tie 2-1 thanks to two first-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo. As a stand only fixture, there is nothing special about this tie. However, the significance of this final to current events lies in the weeks that lead up to the final.
In the 17 days between Anfield and Andalucía, that one match would consistently nag away at the Barca players. Gerard Pique recently called that night the worst defeat of his career and previously stated that he believed that if they won that night, they would have claimed the Copa del Rey as well.
Fast forward to now, and the similarities are present. Barça go into a cup final against a Marcelino led side after a disheartening defeat in an important El Clasico.
Luckily for Ronald Koeman, things are much different. The Dutchman’s team is certainly a better one who have been in fantastic form of late, the defeat in El Clasico did not end Barca’s hopes of winning La Liga, and despite Jordi Alba’s doubts, the player’s confidence will not have taken the same level of a confidence hit the Anfield defeat brought.
However, it is still a memory that remains and Marcelino will only remind them of that.
The 2021 Copa del Rey final is nicely poised for fans of Spanish football. For Barca fans, it will ultimately show whether this team has overcome their psychological traumas of the past. The signs in the previous rounds seem to suggest that they have, but with Barcelona, you never know.