Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero was subbed off in the 64th minute on Sunday versus Tottenham Hotspur. The Cityzens lost 2-0 and both Spurs’ goals came with Aguero on the bench.
Full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko’s second-half sending off influenced manager Pep Guardiola to remove Aguero and replace him with Joao Cancelo. Tottenham Hotspur’s goals came shortly thereafter and Guardiola put forward Gabriel Jesus on the pitch in the final minutes.
Guardiola’s decision to throw Jesus onto the pitch undid the initial decision to remove Aguero. Rather than keep a strong attacking team on the pitch and go at Spurs down a man, Guardiola chose to play more defensively with a full-back on to replace Aguero and assume Zinchenko’s position.
Top scorers across Europe's top five leagues:
Ciro Immobile – 25
Robert Lewandowski – 22
Timo Werner – 20
Cristiano Ronaldo – 19
Jamie Vardy – 17
Romelu Lukaku – 16
Sergio Aguero – 16
Wissam Ben Yedder – 15 pic.twitter.com/O3txCbTEPs
— Spreadex Sports (@SpreadexSport) February 3, 2020
Aguero has scored 16 goals in 19 league matches this season. However, only eight of those 19 matches saw Aguero play a full 90 minutes. Guardiola’s decision to remove Aguero rather than Raheem Sterling, or someone else or no one at all, backfired as the Englishman went off late with a hamstring injury.
Aguero was red-hot in the first half and nearly put the Cityzens ahead with a goal. Hugo Lloris was saved by his post, but time and time again in the first half, Aguero found space behind Tottenham’s centre-backs.
So, what is the relationship between Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola?
From an outsider’s perspective, it would appear Guardiola no longer favours the Argentine. Ahead of the Tottenham game, Aguero had scored in his last four appearances for the club. The striker scored seven times in those four games, yet Guardiola hooked Aguero first despite looking dangerous in the first half.
While Guardiola’s trust in Aguero seems to have faded, it hasn’t with Sterling. The forward has played the last three league matches completing over 84 minutes in each despite not scoring a goal since the 27th of December. Sterling is well out of form and Manchester City have paid for his poor, wasteful performances in the final third.
Aguero has fewer than 18 months left on his contract and it is believed he will leave the Etihad Stadium when it is up. However, Aguero could leave before then. Major League Soccer expansion franchise Inter Miami, which is owned by David Beckham, is interested in Aguero’s signature now. Looking to attract a marquee name, the franchise could sign the 31-year-old this summer.
A move Stateside would immediately make him the best striker in the entire league. In addition to performing well on the pitch, Aguero would be a brilliant signing for a club trying to carve out a niche in a city that has been plagued by bad professional sports teams over the course of the last decade. Miami previously had an MLS team in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The team folded due to a lack of fan interest and financial problems.
There is a belief that Aguero doesn’t work hard enough for Guardiola. Yet, the goalscoring record the striker has proves his work has carried the Cityzens to their titles. But Guardiola has previous with star strikers that standout at their clubs.
In 2020, it may be forgotten that Guardiola signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan in 2009 at Barcelona. Ibrahimovic was at the top of his game and replaced Samuel Eto’o, who was pushed out the door by Guardiola. Although Ibrahimovic has been considered a flop at Barcelona, he still scored 22 goals in 46 appearances.
Guardiola was not a fan of Ibrahimovic’s outgoing personality and the striker took plenty of opportunities to insult the manager after he left. Ibrahimovic was loaned to AC Milan the next season never to play for Guardiola again.
Guardiola’s relationship with Aguero is not only pushing the striker out the door at the Etihad, but it looks like part of the reason Manchester City are now 22 points behind Liverpool. Guardiola is facing his biggest challenge as a manager and so far, he hasn’t done anything that Roberto Mancini nor Manuel Pellegrini did at the club.
If Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola do not improve their relationship ahead of the Champions League last 16 versus Real Madrid, they will end the season once more without the European Cup.