Pep Guardiola says Sergio Aguero is worthy of his place in Manchester City history, even if he continues to be ignored when it comes to individual honours.
Aguero is on the verge of becoming City’s all-time record scorer as he looks to break the record of 177 set by Eric Brook in 1939.
The Argentina forward has been in fine form in recent weeks, most notably with a hat-trick in the recent 6-0 thrashing of Watford at Vicarage Road.
Yet personal recognition has eluded Aguero, despite his consistency — and two Premier League titles — since joining City from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
Not only has he never won any of the English game’s player of the year awards, he has also not been named in the Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year once.
There was further personal disappointment this week as he was left off the 55-man shortlist for Fifpro’s World XI.
Guardiola says that it does not matter if Aguero keeps on missing out on those honours, though, because he has respect where it matters.
“I always encourage my players to fight for the recognition of his team-mates. That is the best way,” he said.
“The best present you can have is the feeling that your team-mates is when you have the feeling that your team-mates love you and you feel you have helped them.
“Recognition in the media and prizes are OK for 10 minutes and then after that they disappear.
“So he’s not in the Fifpro team this week. He will be in the next one. It doesn’t matter.”
– Experience –
If Aguero’s omission from every single one of the six PFA Teams of the Year selected during his time in England is baffling, his failure to make the Fifpro list is a little more understandable given that he has endured a tricky 12 months.
The forward faced something of a battle to prove his worth to Guardiola, who demanded that the striker increase his work off the ball, and also lost his place in the Argentina starting line-up, as they struggle to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
Guardiola is happy Aguero has become a more complete forward in the 14 months they have worked together since the manager’s arrival from Bayern Munich.
“I think every player gets better over the years because you have more experience, you handle situations better,” Guardiola said.
“We tried to convince him to be involved in the way we want to play, to be not just like a striker heading the ball in the box and scoring a goal.
“But one who also makes a high press in the right moment to help to win the ball as quickly as possible, so we can attack as quickly as possible.
“I like the strikers who are involved in the process to play football. It’s the same as the way that I don’t just like the central defenders to defend, they have to be involved in the play.”
Guardiola admits that Aguero does not always look the most enthusiastic player on the training ground, but always sees him come to life on a matchday.
“Sometimes his body language in training is like ‘I’m tired, I don’t like this, it’s cold, it’s freezing’. But he loves to play football.
“Sergio has the character to score goals. He had it in the past with Argentina, his mother and father gave him that talent. He will die scoring goals, there is no doubt about that.”