By Ben Hayward & Steven Saunders
The king is dead, long live El Kun. That's the position Manchester City find themselves in at present, with Carlos Tevez seemingly on his way to Corinthians and fellow Argentine striker Sergio 'Kun' Aguero the No.1 target as his replacement.
But just how suited is Aguero to assuming Tevez's mantle? Can he be the player City need him to be to push neighbours Manchester United all the way in the title race?
Had it not been for Tevez last season - and the season before that too - then City would have ended the campaign in a very different position. He was joint top of the scoring charts in the Premier League alongside former United team-mate Dimitar Berbatov, and it was not just the volume of goals but their importance too.
When City needed inspiration, they always had Tevez. When City were making a meal of trying to beat Wolves at home in January while top of the league, up stepped Tevez with two sublime goals to see his team through.
There was the awesome quality that shone through at set-pieces, as well as the passion demonstrated so memorably against Chelsea in a 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge in February 2010 in a game that will forever be remembered for Wayne Bridge snubbing John Terry's handshake.
Tevez seemed to take up Bridge's cause with two goals and a tireless display that threw doubt over Chelsea's title ambitions - and yet Carlo Ancelotti's men lost only once more in the league that season and completed the double for the first time in their history.
And then there was the vendetta against Manchester United, the taunting of both Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville that seemed to speak for every City supporter who had suffered in the shadow of their rivals for so long - in Tevez, they had a genuine cause celebre.
Can Aguero pick up where Tevez leaves off? The statistics at least are encouraging:
|TEVEZ v AGUERO | Head-to-head
||MINUTES PER GOAL
||SHOTS ON TARGET
||SHOTS OFF TARGET
||PASS COMPLETION %
|338||INTL MINS PER GOAL
|23||CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GAMES
|212||CL MINS PER GOAL
Younger, a sharper goal ratio in international and Champions League football - there is reason to believe that Aguero is every bit the player Tevez has been for City in a statistical sense.
But statistics can only reveal so much. The immeasurables - personality, character, style of play - are what will be vital if Aguero is to be the signing City need him to be.
Encouragingly for City fans, Aguero doesn’t shirk responsibility. He was hugely influential in Atletico Madrid's late charge for Europe, scoring 10 goals in the last eight games. He also has a great record against Barcelona with six goals in 10 games against the Catalan club, but has been less inspired in Madrid derbies, scoring just three times in 11 appearances against Real.
Like all strikers - not least Tevez, incidentally - he can go on barren runs as well. Aguero is not a vocal presence like Tevez, and is less of a natural leader. He will not have Diego Forlan to partner him at City and is untried in the Premier League.
What City would love from a 23-year-old, €45 million signing is the belief that he is there to stay and to build a team around, which nobody could ever truthfully pin on Tevez given his nomadic track record. Aguero has spent a long time at Atletico, but flirted with Real when their interest came out earlier this year.
For Latin American players, the chance to play in Spain or Italy (particularly at a big club) is more appealing due to climate, culture and even language. The warning signs are there for City - what happens in two years time if Real or Barcelona come calling?
And yet, fans will love him – be it for his skills, his workrate, his personality or even his good looks. If Tevez was something of a folk hero, Aguero can be an icon.
Mancini would probably welcome him, too. He is less volatile than Tevez and shouldn’t be a problem to a coach - no more hissy fits when making a substitution will be a relief for the City manager.
Tactically, Aguero is somewhat similar to Tevez. He can play either as a deep-lying forward or as a more direct, central striker. He’s not an out-and-out No.9 but has the quality to adapt to either position, even if the scoring droughts could prove something of a concern.
It's not a like-for-like replacement but the results could be just as good - all that remains is for the money men to make it happen.