Sergio Aguero’s potential surprise availability this summer has made news all over Europe – but it seems unlikely that ‘El Kun’ will be returning to La Liga any time soon.
Former Atletico Madrid whizzkid Aguero remains one of the best young players to have come through at any Spanish club this century. After joining Atletico as a teenager from Independiente he was pretty amazing, scoring 102 goals in 233 games for the Calderon club, and showing a regular tendency to take on and beat big teams [especially Barcelona] almost on his own.
That meant that neighbours Real Madrid were desperate to sign Aguero at the time [see below], and also that ever since he joined Manchester City for €45million in summer 2011 there have been regular rumours that either Madrid or Barca were set to bring him back to Spain.
However, now that there seems to be a very real possibility that Aguero might actually be soon on the market, thanks to new signing Gabriel Jesus’ immediate impact at the Etihad, interest from La Liga’s biggest clubs actually looks quite unlikely.
At first glance the simplest solution might be for Aguero to return to Atletico, where he remains hugely popular with Colchoneros supporters. But there’s a complication – the manner of his exit six years ago still rankles with the hierarchy at the Calderon.
That transfer was extra complex and dragged on for most of the summer. Atletico chiefs had hoped to get at least €60m, but Aguero and his camp tried to force through a move to the Bernabeu. Atletico held out successfully to avoid the ignominy of their best player moving to their crosstown rivals but even still felt they had been backed into a corner.
On El Transistor on Monday evening, Atletico club president Enrique Cerezo suggested he was not interested in negotiating with Aguero or his representatives again.
“[Aguero] has been the only player who left Atleti under a cloud, as he was stupid,” Cerezo said “He arrived as a hero, and he left through the back door.”
Another complicating factor would be that Aguero would face a similar problem at Atletico as he does at City. In the unlikely situation that the club had lots of money to spend this summer - after perhaps selling Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United or Arsenal, and having their FIFA transfer ban lifted - the returning hero coach Diego Simeone really wants is Diego Costa. As the Chelsea man has the work-rate and intensity which Simeone, just like Guardiola, demands from his centre-forward.
So what about Madrid? Speculation around the Bernabeu has suggested they will also be looking for a new centre-forward this summer, with the futures of current number nine Karim Benzema and back-up Alvaro Morata both increasingly questioned. That could leave a gap for Aguero to finally fulfill what has long seemed his dream, and for Blancos president Florentino Perez to successfully end a chase which has lasted almost a decade.
But time has moved on – and Aguero will turn 29 later this year. For all their regular splashing of cash, Florentino and his advisors now prefer to sign players who are not yet at their peak [see Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Benzema, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez etc etc]. The days of spending whatever they had to get on players past their best [David Beckham, Figo, Ronaldo Nazario] are over, with the club having learned their mistake on that the hard way. The new forward it seems Madrid really want is Juventus’ exciting young talent Paulo Dybala (see below) - another Argentina attacker, but one who is five years younger than Aguero.
The Barcelona option has also seemed open regularly through the years, but has shut more recently. Aguero and blaugrana talisman Leo Messi are firm friends, having first played together in the Argentina youth-ranks, winning the 2005 Under-20 World Cup and then the Beijing Olympics in 2008 together. For all that, though, they have never really clicked together for the albiceleste senior side, and there are doubts over whether their styles are perfectly compatible.
Also the Camp Nou outfit are unlikely to have the money or inclination to spend big on a forward next summer. Neymar and Luis Suarez have just signed new long-term deals, and Messi is expected to soon put pen to paper on another pay-rise. The Barca board are more likely to fill problem positions in midfield and right-back than bring in a big name forward who would expect to play every week.
All of which means that, while Aguero might be more than open to leaving City this summer for La Liga, his chances of joining any of Spain’s biggest clubs are minimal. Other suitors, whether Chelsea, Paris Saint Germain or Inter Milan, look much better placed to take advantage of the change in his circumstances.