‘A star is born!’ So said Sky Sports on Monday night as Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero made his Premier League debut for Manchester City and introduced himself with a half hour masterclass. Sky’s Premier League coverage has always been insular and biased, even at the expense of their own excellent La Liga coverage. That said, to claim that because he’s in the Premier League, Aguero has now made it, is a particularly extreme example of their hyperbole & blinkered view of football. It’s insulting to intelligent fans who understand and appreciate the world game and even more so to a player who over the last few years has raised himself to the top table of world football.
Ask Independiente fans when this ‘star was born’ and they won’t say 15th August 2011. They’ll tell you 5th July 2003, at an incredible 15 years and 35 days Kun made his debut for the club, becoming the youngest player in Argentine First Division history. Aguero was the latest in a long line of ‘next Maradona’s', even more so as it was El Diez’ record that he had just broken. That’s a lot of pressure to live with, but as with all those destined to make it to the top the young Aguero coped admirably. He was very quick to establish himself in the Independiente first team and set about destroying veteran defenders on a regular basis. This video shows an early glimpse of what was to come:
With the cream of European clubs taking a keen interest in Aguero’s progress, a move to one of the top leagues was always going to be when, not if. Atletico Madrid were the team who won the battle for his signature and aged just 18, Kun was on his way to Spain. A controversial handball goal in one of his early games for Atletico only increased the Maradona comparisons – incidentally, Maradona plays a massive part in Kun’s off field life; Diego is his father in law. His first season wasn’t a massive success but did include his senior debut for Argentina in a friendly against Brazil. After that season Aguero’s career has been on a serious upward curve, hitting 19 goals in La Liga the following season. His performance against Barcelon in a 4-2 win was the highlight of the season. He scored two and made the other two, overshadowing Ronaldinho’s overhead kick which had given Barca the lead. That summer Aguero was a key part of the Argentina team that won Olympic Gold in Beijing. If you’re keeping count that was over three years before the ‘star was born’.
In the following seasons Aguero continued to play a leading role for a club that was seemingly always in turmoil. Kun was instrumental in their Europa League winning campaign in 09/10, scoring six goals along the way and getting both assists in the final. By this point Kun had established his own distinct style and whilst there are similarities with Maradona and other classic number 10’s, Kun has more of a pure strikers instinct. Roberto Mancini has recently compared him to Brazil legend Romario and indeed there are a number of similarities; the stocky appearance and low centre of gravity that make him incredibly hard to knock off the ball being an example of this. It’s also fascinating to watch the movements that Aguero makes in and around the box. He is extremely clever, often making moves away from the ball that buy him space that others don’t find and defenders don’t cover. Romario was a master of clever movement and popping up in the right spot at the right time, as Aguero did for his first against Swansea on Monday night. Also like the Brazilian, Kun is more than capable of precision, placed shots. As his second on Monday showed he has a thunderbolt strike at his disposal too.
Just prior to his move to City, Aguero had been one of the few bright sparks in Argentina’s doomed Copa America campaign, scoring three goals, including a crucial equaliser from the bench in their opening game. Before the competition Aguero had decided that it was time for him to move on from Atletico and his Copa performances only served to highlight what a hot property he was. Real Madrid and Barcelona were two obvious links as were Manchester City and their billions. In reality a move was difficult for either of the Spanish giants, so City were in pole position despite noise of late competition for his signature from Juventus. But City got their man at the end of July for a fee reported to be £35m. Even City with all their money won’t pay £35m for someone who isn’t a star already. That’s Liverpool’s job.
Whatever Sky will try and tell you, the star was born some time ago. What’s true is, the star has arrived in the Premier League. Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero’s arrival is bad news for defenders and City’s rivals but is extremely good news for Manchester City’s prospects, the fans at Eastlands and anyone who enjoys watching a supremely talented, genuine football star in action.