Manchester City need Sergio Aguero scoring again

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Manchester City at Vitality Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Manchester City at Vitality Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) /

While Manchester City look elsewhere for an answer to their problem of wasted chances, the answer yet lies firmly on the boots of the league’s best striker Sergio Aguero.

The annual silly season, otherwise known as the official FIFA transfer window, draws speedily to a close and, can I just say, thank God for that. Maybe I say this every year, but this one felt longer, more drawn out and objectively painful than any to come before it. That whole Griezmann to United saga, for example.

Someone, somewhere, has a tattoo of Griezmann in a red kit with Chevrolet on it on his chest, hoping that the stars align again next year and/or United never change their shirt sponsor. Aside from him though, I think we all are justified in feeling a bit fed up after that will-he, won’t-he car crash of a saga came to an abrupt conclusion.

One Premier League team that certainly did enjoy a more successful window was, of course, Manchester City. Replacing essentially their entire back line, goalkeeper included, with some of the best talent available and throwing in a few attacking options for good measure. North of £200 million was a hefty sum to cough up in one window, but, for the oldest squad in the top six, it was a price City simply had to pay.

One glaring omission from their summer spending spree, aside from centre back, was a centre forward. Ah, but you know, they have Sergio Aguero. He of Premier League lore, still commanding the best goals-per-minute ratio (106) in the competition. They also have precocious Brazilian international Gabriel Jesus who arrived on the scene with a bang last season scoring 7 and assisting 4 in only 8 appearances. Surely that should be enough?

Perhaps, but I’m not sure. City toiled with wasted opportunities last season and the trend seems to be continuing, if not getting worse. Aguero did bang in 20 for the Blues, but took some 139 shots to reach that for a dismal conversion rate of 14%, the lowest in his career by a measure. While Jesus performed much better, at 24% the year previous, this time round he has yet to hit that scintillating form that he teased from January on.

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Whatever the reason, City are creating chances by the bucket-load but failing to convert them. The problem hasn’t been alien to Pep Guardiola, who has claimed knowledge of it since the beginning of his tenure and continually cites it as the primary contributor to his side’s struggles, but is a difficult one to replicate. How do you get Sergio to start scoring again?

One solution has indeed been to look for more potent answers elsewhere. We’ve discussed before how Manchester City were in on Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe and how that was almost certainly an avenue the club can and should explore. Nonetheless, with Mbappe now seemingly off to Paris, the chief target seems to have return to being Alexis Sanchez, though you could argue it was him from the beginning.

Sanchez is of course, like Griezmann, a transfer window tale so long and agonisingly drawn-out I fully expect a novel on it within a few years. He’s entering the last year of his contract and, at 29, wants to make the move to a club that can see his efforts rewarded with trophies and acclaim. Arsenal meanwhile, don’t want to move him on and certainly not to City. He’s their best player and among the best in the Premier League, so obviously.

Whether it all falls into place this week for Sanchez and City or not is anyone’s guess. One way or another though, it’s time for Guardiola’s men to step up. Indeed, it’s time for Kun to step up. The team still, after all these years, relies on him like none other. When he’s knocking them in for fun it all seems so easy, when he’s missing sitters suddenly even lesser opposition become a chore to extract points from. City played their opponents in Brighton, Everton and Birmingham off the park in their first three games, yet have 7 points and a goal difference of only 3 to show for it. Not that they’ve been conceding a lot, just they haven’t been scoring.

All this isn’t just down to Sergio, but he hasn’t the same flexibility in his game to fall back on like the rest. Aguero is a striker, a pure centre-forward, hungry and looking for any and every chance to knick a goal. Sanchez? Well he can play across the front three or even deeper still, indeed, under Guardiola at Barcelona, Alexis played on the wing. Jesus too has experience on the right and has performed there for club and country to success.

No matter who arrives at the Etihad in the few days remaining, without an all-guns-firing Aguero, City will toil again this season. The results may come, but the goals not as much. He will be played and he will be given every opportunity to find form and the back of the net again, but should that fail to happen then it could well be another season of missed goals and missed opportunities for Pep’s side.

Next: Manchester City sell aging midfielder

Sanchez would make a huge difference to the Blues going forward, but make no mistake, Aguero’s shooting boots are absolutely essential and, if he found them again, wouldn’t that be the real story of the summer?