News Live Scores
Transfers

Guardiola has fallen out with Zlatan, Eto'o and Toure - will Aguero become Man City manager's latest enemy?

11:00 GMT+4 06/06/2021
Pep Guardiola Sergio Aguero GFX
The new Barcelona forward has moved on after a decade at the Etihad but his father has taken a pop at Pep following Kun's departure

Sergio Aguero’s time at Manchester City ended in tears, quite literally. And now there is a chance that it could now also end in metaphorical tears too. 

The Argentina striker was in floods after his last-ever appearance for the club ended with Champions League heartbreak following the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea last week.

A week earlier, around 10,000 fans were allowed into the Etihad Stadium for the first time all season and there were quite a few shed there too as the crowd said farewell to another legend.

Perhaps most surprisingly was the sight of Pep Guardiola breaking down when interviewed about the departing No.10 after City lifted the Premier League title.

“We love him so much,” the City boss told Sky Sports. “He’s a special person. He’s so nice. He helped me a lot.

“We cannot replace him, we cannot. There are many players in this club – Joe Hart, David Silva - who helped us to be this club. We have his legacy.”

But there is a risk that legacy will be damaged if Aguero’s unhappiness over his exit escalates any further.

Guardiola is not afraid of making courageous decisions by jettisoning big names; it has seen him come in for criticism from some of his former players who didn’t like the way they were managed.

Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Yaya Toure are top of a list of leading players that have all famously had their arguments with the former Barcelona coach.

“My lawyer at the time told me that the club had put me up for sale on the transfer market. I said: 'Really?' He said: 'Yes, at Guardiola's request'," Eto'o told BeIn Sports in 2019 of the circumstances of his transfer to Inter in 2009. 

"It's clear today, that move, and the opportunity that Pep gave me has gone down in history because it permitted me to be an even bigger part of football history by going to Inter. He allowed Inter to strike the best deal in football history."

It’s hoped that Aguero, the greatest goalscorer in City’s history, doesn’t join the ranks of the disaffected star names.

With Aguero turning 33, Guardiola made the decision that it was time for a new striker and 'Kun' would leave when his contract ran out at the end of June, ending an incredible 10-year association with the club.

The Argentinian is understood to have been unhappy to be departing - and that the exit was confirmed so late- but was gracious in his public farewell.

His contract doesn’t expire until the end of the month - when he will officially become a Barcelona player - but he has  already been unveiled by the Catalan giants.

Funny and easy-going, Aguero is not expected to start a war of words with the City boss although his father has already fired off some shots in Guardiola’s direction.

"I don't believe Guardiola. He never wanted him, he wants to be the protagonist of all his teams," Aguero’s dad Leonel del Castillo told Radio La Red. "He never treated him well, nor me or his brothers.

"Guardiola is a great coach but from one day to the next he changes the players, the environment changes. You never know if you are a starter or not. He said he [Aguero] was irreplaceable but does not have him in the squad."

It is hoped that this is the end of the matter with no one at the club seeking a war of words between the club’s most decorated player and their most successful-ever manager.

Aguero felt he had more to offer, following his decade of service which had seen him become City’s greatest-ever striker. He scored 260 goals in 390 appearances, including that iconic title-clinching moment on the final day of the 2012 season.

No other player has scored more Premier League goals for a single club than Aguero and, in his last game at the Etihad, he showed he had lost none of his natural ability with two brilliantly-taken goals in a 5-0 victory over Everton.

But his departure had been confirmed back in March; Guardiola made the decision that he needed a new goalscorer with the Premier League’s leading marksman Harry Kane high on his wanted list.

With Aguero starting just eight of City’s 61 matches of the season, the City boss has had to adapt and spent much of the campaign playing without an orthodox striker.

While it worked to some extent - with Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Ferran Torres all getting into the teens for goals - a permanent central goalscorer is required.

Aguero scored 30 in his first three seasons under the Catalan and another 23 in his fourth, but injuries have had a major impact on his availability and impact more recently.

He missed virtually half of the 2019-20 campaign and a long recovery from knee surgery, muscle injuries and elongated absence due to Covid-19 wrecked his opportunities last season.

Naturally, he thought that if he could be fully fit then he could still make a contribution but Guardiola didn’t agree. It was not only the goals that were required, but high energy to lead his side’s high pressing game.

Their relationship was believed to be fraught in the days immediately after his exit was confirmed in a meeting in Guardiola's office but it improved, particularly in his final days at the club.

Watching their pre-match training session at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao ahead of the Champions League final, there was no suggestion of any issues between the pair.

A warm relationship between Aguero and City’s backroom staff, meanwhile, ensured there would be no acrimony with the club and he underlined his popularity by raffling off his Range Rover, which was won by one of the kitmen.

Aguero is a player that has generally done his talking on the pitch and is excited by the challenge of moving to Camp Nou and playing alongside his good friend Lionel Messi.

Scoring goals has always been the answer delivered to his critics and would again be a perfect response to Guardiola’s judgment that he is past his best.

His position as a City legend is secure but a spat with the current coach would be an unnecessary and uncharactertic testing of that status.