Pep Guardiola is convinced Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will still be the "same player" when he returns from his lingering injury problems.
The 32-year-old Aguero has been limited to 26 Premier League appearances out of a possible 47 since the start of last season, with a series of fitness problems plaguing the Argentinian.
In 2019-20, Aguero suffered with thigh issues and a knee injury that had him sidelined for four months, missing the start of this campaign.
Although he returned to the pitch in October, Aguero was soon back in the treatment room with a hamstring strain, and is currently nursing another knee injury.
Aguero is City's all-time leading goalscorer and his pedigree in the Premier League is significant – since the start of 2015-16, his 102 goals is bettered by only Jamie Vardy (106) and Harry Kane (126).
Despite his record in front of goal, some are concerned Aguero's injury problems will have caused the former Atletico Madrid player to lose his sharpness, though Guardiola has no such worries.
"When he will be fit, he'll be the same player," Guardiola declared ahead of Saturday's clash with Fulham.
"Of course, age is age, he has to be fit and will need a bit more time than [Phil] Foden or Raheem [Sterling] would, because the physicality of the body is completely different, but I'm optimistic he will help us this season to do what he needs.
"For that he must have no pain in the knee; we are working on it and today it feels much better. When he is able to train one week and two weeks in normal conditions, he will come back at his best and his sense of goal is unique in this team.
"That is why it is so important. We cannot forget we have already played five or six months without him – that's a long time without our striker.
"But I'm confident as he works a lot, he's a lovely person, I have an incredible relationship with him, better than ever. I like him and we want him back as soon as possible for him and for the team."
Aguero is in the last year of his contract at City, with some long holding the belief he plans to return to Argentina once his time in Manchester comes to an end.