PETE JENSON: Aguero is only seen as a  GAMBLE for in-debt Barcelona

PETE JENSON: Sergio Aguero’s Man City exit did NOT make headline news in Spain… the ageing striker is only seen as a GAMBLE for cash-strapped Barcelona, and new president Joan Laporta has his eyes set on statement signing Erling Haaland anyway!

  • Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero’s next destination is high on the agenda
  • City announced Aguero would be leaving at the end of the current campaign
  • Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the Argentine striker
  • A move for the 32-year-old would represent a gamble given their financial crisis

When Barcelona were first linked with Sergio Aguero before the club’s presidential elections at the start of March, the comments sections below one story carried reaction ranging from ‘they got rid of Suarez because he was finished but then they bring Kun!’ to another highlighting Barcelona’s financial situation that said ‘unless we are planning to pay him in Smarties I don’t see how it’s going to work’.

On Monday, Aguero confirmed what everyone already knew – that he was not staying at Manchester City beyond the end of this season. The announcement came during a slow news day in Spain in the middle of an international break but it didn’t make the front of any of the country’s big four sports papers. Eric Garcia, David Alaba, Mo Salah (interview) and Philippe Coutinho (how are we going to sell him?) all featured instead.

There were pieces inside Sport, AS and Marca about the curtain coming down on Aguero’s extraordinary Premier League career, and Manchester City’s all-time record goalscorer could still end up back in Spain returning to the league he left 10 years ago this summer, especially if his clear desire to finish his career alongside Lionel Messi translates to a pay sacrifice.

Sergio Aguero’s imminent departure from Manchester City wasn’t headline news in Spain

Aguero will leave City as the club’s top scorer – having netted an incredible 257 goals

But Ronald Koeman’s preference for another type of forward and the fact that Aguero has only been involved in 14 games this season means this will not be an inevitable return, and that if he does come, there will be reservations among Barcelona supporters.

Aguero was offered to all three presidential candidates in the Catalan club’s recent election. Those representing the 32-year-old striker briefed at the time that a deal had been done with Joan Laporta, who won the race. They remain convinced of that, but that’s not the version you’ll get from the club, who still have various balls in the air, anxious to see which ones drop and which ones can be caught when the season ends.

Laporta wants to begin his second spell as president with a huge statement signing, much as Florentino Perez did at Real Madrid when he came back in 2009 and brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema in the same summer.

Laporta would love that statement signing to be Erling Haaland. He has a good relationship still with Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, from the deal done for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009.

Whether Laporta can fund what he sees as an investment rather than an indulgence remains to be seen. Much will depend on how effective plans to raise the capital necessary to get the club past short-term credit problems in the close season are. Even then Manchester may be more attractive for Haaland.

Barca signing Aguero would leave fans baffled given they got rid of the ageing Luis Suarez

It’s harder to sell Aguero as an investment. ‘Gamble’ feels like the more appropriate word. There would be no transfer fee but a signing-on fee and wages would have to be found and the idea that it makes no sense to get rid of Suarez only to bring in Aguero is hard to argue with, at least on the European stage where Barcelona have struggled.

One of the problems with Suarez and Messi in the same team in those big matches was that neither at this stage of their career was able to press with much intensity. There was a sense that when Barcelona did not have the ball they were playing with nine.

Aguero needed to be coaxed into become a pressing forward under Pep Guardiola – would he be able to do that into next season past his 33rd birthday in June?

It’s why Koeman would prefer the forwards accompanying Messi in attack to offer speed and aggressive energy. He would much rather the club sign Memphis Depay if Haaland proves beyond them.

Messi would prefer Aguero. The pair almost played together at Barcelona in 2014 but Barca’s then-sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta’s attempt to prise Aguero out of City failed and so he moved on to plan B, Suarez.

There is an argument that for all that Aguero and Messi are pals, not since the 2008 Olympics have they won anything in the same team for Argentina. But, while it’s hard to see the pair putting Barcelona back on top in Europe, they would rack up the goals against inferior defences in La Liga. 

Joan Laporta wants his statement summer signing to be Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland

Despite his wishes, Laporta faces a tough summer ahead given Barca’s financial mess

Sportsmail spoke to former Barcelona forward Steve Archibald last week and he was convinced the signing would work.

‘I would take Aguero in a flash,’ he said. ‘He’s a top finisher, his movement is fantastic. I would say he’s a step up on even Suarez in terms of the very last move he makes in the area to get on to the final pass. I think it would work fantastically well, as long as he is fit of course.’

Aguero is on the list of possible recruits, one that runs from the all-but-signed Eric Garcia, through the Dutch free transfers of Georginio Wijnaldum and Depay, to the extravagantly ambitious Haaland.

Those who argue the case for Aguero at Barcelona say he could come in as a reserve striker – an upgrade on Martin Braithwaite.

It’s difficult to argue the man who smashed all records at City and wrote his name into the club’s history books wouldn’t be a sensational squad man. Time will tell if, with his recent injury record and Koeman’s doubts, he will be a luxury the club feel they can afford.

Lionel Messi would like to see his Argentine compatriot move to the Nou Camp this summer




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