Who: Sergio Agüero
From Where: Manchester City
To Where: Barcelona
For How Much: nada (free transfer)
Grade For Barcelona: B-
Grade for Manchester City: B
SERGIO AGÜERO TRANSFER TO BARCELONA OVERVIEW
A deal we’ve known about for months was finalized when longtime Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero confirmed his move to Barcelona earlier this week. Agüero needs little introduction at this point in his career. But for anyone unfamiliar with him, he was a big piece of City’s incredible run in the EPL over the past decade.
Injuries severely limited him in ’20-21, but he scored at least 16 goals in each of the five EPL seasons prior to the one that just concluded. He also piled up 20 or more goals in domestic play every year from ’14-15 until ’18-19.
The question is how much he has left in the tank. That is why I’m not certain this is a great move for Barcelona, even though on paper, “free transfer signing of historically prolific scorer” has a ring to it.
WHO IS SERGIO AGÜERO?
The Argentine striker, who just turned 33, joins Barcelona after establishing himself as one of the best players in Manchester City history over the last 10 years. Prior to his time with City, Aguero spent five years with Atlético Madrid. We all know about his goal-scoring prowess, but it’s also worth noting that he has piled up impressive assist totals a few times in his career, including as recently as ’18-19, when he had eight.
One of the biggest reasons he chose Barcelona over a solid list of suitors is his relationship with Lionel Messi, a longtime teammate of his on the Argentine national team. Their chemistry should make Barcelona’s attack that much more dangerous when Agüero is fit.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Financially, the answer is (obviously) yes. But if Agüero insists on a big role — though I will say he presumably is coming in aware he’ll start most games on the bench — Barcelona would have a big price to pay on that front.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
Speaking of his role, I have a couple big questions about this deal. For one, it’s hard to overstate how uncertain Agüero’s health is. It’s not just his age. It’s the fact that in soccer, being two seasons removed from your last full campaign – he started 31 EPL games in ’18-19, but a total of 25 the past two seasons – means your best days might very well be behind you.
On the flip side – and to show that I’m not just refusing to believe in a player because of his age – I should acknowledge that three of La Liga’s top four scorers in ’20-21 (Messi, Luis Suárez and Karim Benzema) are 33 or older.
The bigger question is how Ronald Koeman (assuming he’s back on the sidelines next season) lines up his attacking pieces. Messi’s place is secure, but out of Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati and now Agüero, someone is going to have to be the odd man out. And we haven’t even touched on Memphis Depay, who could join the club this summer. The other issue is that if and when Messi and Agüero play together, you’re likely going to lose the ability to effectively press all over the field.
The best-case scenario for Barcelona is that Agüero has a similar season to the one Suárez enjoyed with Atleti to lead them to the title this past season. The worst case obviously involves him struggling to stay fit and/or taking valuable minutes from a promising young piece like Fati.
While this is a free transfer, I’m not afraid to be a little skeptical, if not harsh, here — I just don’t think this team needs more players on the wrong side of their prime.
Manchester City: B
It became crystal clear a long time ago that Agüero was not coming back for another season under Pep Guardiola. Considering City’s depth – and the 83 goals they scored essentially without him this season – losing him hardly constitutes a crippling blow. As long as he didn’t join a league rival, the club legend’s move had to count as a “win.”