Sergio Aguero was never world class until he started working with Pep Guardiola this summer, according to Shaun Goater.
Goater, the former Manchester City striker and firm fan favourite, has hailed the influence Guardiola has had on Aguero across the past four months.
The Argentine has established himself as one of the most important figures in City’s recent history: his 150 goals have helped to deliver two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups, and he is just 38 strikes away from becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer.
Even so, Guardiola has made a point of asking Aguero to improve a number of areas of his game so far this season, and Goater believes he is now playing better than he has ever done.
"Aguero's work-rate is night and day compared to even last season,” Goater told Goal.
"For all his great talent, he was not a complete player under Manuel Pellegrini, but Pep has turned him into one now.
“Pep told him in the summer what was expected of him and he has responded magnificently. He's now world class and I'm not sure you could say that before.”
Guardiola has urged Aguero to work harder without the ball, whether he is closing down opposition defenders or making better runs off the ball when City are in possession, and he has also told him to “realise his importance to the club”.
Aguero didn’t score against the Spanish champions, but there was a significant improvement in his work-rate and interplay with his team-mates, and Goater believes that game may have summed up his transformation.
"I've seen him in areas of the pitch that I had never seen him in,” the Bermudan added.
"Now you see him dropping deep, pulling defenders away to create space and getting involved in build-ups.
"Pep wants his players to be interchangeable and told Aguero that he almost has to add a midfielder’s mentality to his talents. I think the penny has dropped with Aguero.
"It was a huge match for Aguero [against Barcelona] because he is desperate to win the Champions League with City. He admitted he wouldn't leave until he has done so.
"He didn't score against Barca, but his performance was outstanding. He left the pitch with a huge smile on his face and I never thought I'd see him do that without getting on the scoresheet.
"As a striker myself, I know how we can be obsessed with scoring goals. After all, it is how we are judged, and that was Aguero's thinking, too.
"There was always huge pressure on Aguero to score, but Guardiola has freed him up a bit by saying that there is more to your game that just scoring goals.
"Pep values assists as much as goals because ultimately it's about results."