Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (R) celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League football match Napoli vs Manchester City on November 1, 2017 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. Sergio Aguero scores club record 178th Man City goal. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Having already supplied the single most gloriously heart-stopping moment in Manchester City’s history, Sergio Aguero has further embellished his legacy by becoming the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
The Argentina striker created a timeless Premier League moment at the end of his first City season in 2011-12 when his stoppage-time goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day ended their 44-year wait for the title.
Five years on, and having had to dig deep to prove his worth to sceptical manager Pep Guardiola over the past year, he now stands alone as the greatest striker ever to have donned City’s sky-blue shirt.
“He’s a legend already at City. It’s just a case of how big a legend he becomes,” says City great Francis Lee.
“If he stays at the club for the duration of his contract, he’ll be way ahead and in an unassailable position.
“He could run up another 100 goals. He could go on to be one of the top three Premier League goal-scorers ever.”
Just nine months ago, Aguero’s City future appeared bleak after he lost the trust of incoming manager Guardiola.
Guardiola wanted a more mobile forward capable of contributing to his possession-based philosophy and he was quick to deploy Gabriel Jesus as City’s central striker once the Brazilian sensation signed in January.
By the time Guardiola left Aguero out for a clash with Swansea City in February — the fifth time he had been dropped that season — there seemed no way back for the Argentine.
Yet aside from his prolific penalty-box exploits, Aguero’s most crucial characteristic might well be a bloody-minded determination to bend any narrative to his favour.
That tenacious attitude brings back memories of Eric Brook, the blunt Yorkshireman whose City goal record of 177 goals — which had stood for over 78 years — was eclipsed by Aguero against Napoli on Wednesday.
Having reclaimed a spot in the team last season following an injury to Jesus, Aguero has made himself indispensable with a barrage of goals.
He has shown he can thrive alongside Jesus or as the sole fulcrum of Guardiola’s attack and his goal in September’s 5-0 drubbing of Liverpool made him the highest-scoring non-European in English top-flight history.
“He’s a legend, and it’s a part of history in the club,” said Guardiola of Aguero, who has now scored 178 goals for City in 264 appearances.
“Aguero’s numbers speak for themselves. He is amazing.”
Signed from Atletico Madrid for £38 million ($50 million, 43 million euros) by then City manager Roberto Mancini in 2011, Aguero wasted little time announcing his arrival on the Premier League stage.
He marked his City debut with two goals in a 30-minute substitute appearance against Swansea.
By the time City reached the final game of the season, Aguero had scored 29 times to leave his club on the brink of becoming champions for the first time since 1968.
In the dying seconds of injury time, he fired home a winner to complete a sensational 3-2 comeback win over QPR that enabled City to snatch the title from the hands of disbelieving arch rivals Manchester United.
Aguero’s goals were a key element of his side’s second Premier League triumph two years later.
He has also won the League Cup twice and finished as the Premier League’s top scorer in the 2014-15 season.
Remarkably, Aguero has never been included in the Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year, which is voted for by his fellow professionals.
But as Guardiola can now testify, there can be no doubting his greatness.