Man City record breaker Sergio Aguero deserves more recognition
Manuel Pellegrini claimed he was capable of challenging Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to become the best player in the world; Pep Guardiola said he should be doing more. But throughout his Manchester City career, Sergio Aguero has continued to do what he does best: score goals.
Aguero scored his first of the season in Sunday's Community Shield clash with Chelsea, but more significantly his 200th goal. The Argentina international is now in his eighth season at the Etihad Stadium and has already passed 20 Premier League goals in six of his previous campaigns, including the last four.
Aguero had 21 goals in the Premier League last season despite missing 13 games to incredibly make the PFA Team of the Year for the first time in his time in England. He finished behind only Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane and Liverpool's Mohammed Salah in the goal charts and had a better goals-per-minute ratio than the England international, with a goal every 94 minutes compares to Kane's 103.
In total, Aguero claimed 30 goals in all competitions from 39 appearances, and along with seven assists, he is involved in almost a goal on average every time he plays.
Statistics prove that he is one of the greatest goal scorers that the Premier League has ever seen. He's already scored more than any player born outside Europe and is three away from breaking into the top 10 goal scorers of all time, and will have played the fewest seasons of anyone in that list.
His one Golden Boot came in the 2014-15 season, and that was the only time in the past 15 years that the league's top scorer has not made the PFA Team of the Year.
At least Aguero's value to City isn't underappreciated by the fans. Last season he became the club's all-time top goal scorer and is now the first to hit a double century.
There has been plenty of competition for his place throughout his years at City. Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo have all been at the club during his time, and Aguero has maintained his position as first choice.
Perhaps the biggest threat has come more recently following the explosive arrival of Gabriel Jesus in January 2017. The Brazilian scored seven times in 11 appearances, and a rival was selected ahead of Aguero for the first time in his City career.
Indeed, the suggestion was that Aguero's time at City could be under threat, particularly with Guardiola less glowing in his praise for the striker than his predecessors. Roberto Mancini and Pellegrini were unequivocal in hailing his quality, but Guardiola has demanded he get even better.
Despite scoring 11 goals fewer than two months into last season, Guardiola said: "I'm so happy for him, but he knows that I want more, he can play better, he can make other things that are going to help us. I will try, I will try to help him to develop his abilities as a football player."
It was a controversial approach for a player who was almost untouchable previously, but Guardiola was right -- Aguero could be even better. He has never been as prolific as he has been under the Catalan coach, scoring a best-ever 33 goals in a trophy-less first season under Guardiola, and he was breaking that again in his second term but for injury.
His movement, selflessness and desire to win the ball back has fed into Guardiola's team ethic, while he has still delivered an outstanding goal haul, too.
Aguero will always go down in Premier League history for his unforgettable 2012 title-winning goal against QPR deep in injury time, but it is time his contributions to club and league is given more acknowledgement.
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.