As Diego Costa was pictured in an Atletico Madrid shirt over the weekend, Chelsea’s hunt for a replacement striker goes on. They’ve been issued an ultimatum over their proposed move for Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, had an £88 million bid rejected by Juventus for Gonzalo Higuain and their interest in Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata has gone quiet.
Options seem to be running fairly thin. It’s in the darkest of times, though, that you can best see the light, and said light could come in the form of Sergio Aguero. The Blues have reportedly opened talks with the Manchester City striker over a proposed move to Stamford Bridge.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about it, though, is that Pep Guardiola has rubber-stamped the deal, seemingly prepared to let the Argentine go to one of the Citizens’ big Premier League rivals. RealSport take a look at the reasons why the Spaniard is so willing to let Aguero go.
Making room for Alexis Sanchez
At a time when City are rumoured to hold a strong interest in Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, Guardiola has some fat-trimming to do in terms of his squad.
The Citizens boast a fantastic array of attacking talent in the form of Gabriel Jesus, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling and Guardiola struggled to find a first team spot for them all, even on a rotational basis.
Guardiola is a keen admirer of Arsenal’s Sanchez, in a sense viewing the forward as the great unfinished project leftover from his tenure as Barcelona boss, and when talent of that high quality is available, you have to make the deal happen.
To make space, though, it looks as if Aguero will be in the firing line. Does it make sense to cut Aguero for Sanchez? Is Sanchez that much better? Irrespective of opinion, this seems to be the plan of action.
Guardiola’s perfect tactical fit
It’s extremely difficult to let a striker of Aguero’s calibre and record leave, particularly to a rival, but if he’s not right, he’s not right, end of story. This seems to be the case with Aguero and Guardiola, with the Spaniard dropping City’s number ten on multiple occasions last season because of doubts over his work rate.
Aguero’s scoring record is phenomenal, scoring 169 goals in 253 total appearances, but he’s a very traditional striker, an out-and-out goal-scorer. He’s not a false nine type of forward, someone to drop deeper in search of the ball, rather a fox-in-the-box striker that relies on his movement, speed and positioning to be in the right place at the right time.
“I think the position Arsenal are using [Sanchez] as a striker, in front, it is perfect for him,” the Spaniard said. “In Barcelona, maybe I didn’t help him too much because he played wide…, but he is better between the lines, closer to the goal.”
Guardiola wants a more all-action forward, which Sanchez is. Pep likes players that play with high-energy and defend from the front, both of which are attributes Sanchez has in his locker. He contributes goals, assists and creates chances, scoring (24) and assisting (10) the most goals at Arsenal last year, second only to Mesut Ozil (78 to 98) in terms of chances created.
The Chilean scored four more goals, assisted three more and created over double the chances Aguero could muster, as well as making three times as many tackles (39 to 13) and 20 more interceptions. He had a far more productive season in all areas of the pitch and fits Guardiola’s tactical system better than Aguero ever could given their different styles of play.
Aguero isn’t the future
Perhaps what might be playing on his mind, too, is the fact that Aguero turned 29-years-old this summer. He’s played a crucial role in leading City to where they currently are, but it’s Guardiola’s turn to create a team in his own image.
Whilst Sanchez doesn’t represent a younger model in the fact that he, too, is turning 29 in December, we must forget the Chilean for a second and hark back to their £27 million January acquisition from Palmeiras, Gabriel Jesus.
When the Brazilian arrived in Manchester that month, he started the second Premier League game he was available to play in, against West Ham, with Aguero dropping to the bench. Three goals in three league appearances ensued before Jesus injured his foot, but it was an indication of Guardiola’s preference to play Jesus over Aguero.
What became clear was that the Spaniard wants to imprint his own mark on the team and create a side that reflected his philosophy. There’s no denying Aguero is one of the world’s best strikers, but he’s neither a ‘Guardiola player’ nor the future. This, perhaps, explains why City are so willing to part ways with the Argentine.
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