Is Sergio Aguero being SNUBBED by his Man City team-mates… or is his desperation to win the Champions League causing frustrations? Sportsmail examines the stats after Pep Guardiola’s star striker insists he wasn’t being passed to against Gladbach
- Sergio Aguero came on for a cameo appearance vs Borussia Monchengladbach
- The Argentine played the last 15 minutes and only received three passes
- He was then overheard telling a coach his team-mates do not pass at full-time
- Sportsmail examines the stats to see if the living City legend is on to something
‘No me pasan la pelota.’
An irritated Sergio Aguero was heard muttering as he trudged from the field on Tuesday night, despite Manchester City having secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It translated roughly to: ‘They don’t pass me the ball.’
Aguero, widely considered City’s greatest striker of all time, is finally back from a lengthy lay-off, yet the smile does not appear to have returned.
Sergio Aguero left the pitch unhappy and complained to a coach: ‘They don’t pass me the ball’ following his 15-minute cameo against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League
The Argentine was a 75th-minute substitute in Manchester City’s victory over the Germans
The 32-year-old was clearly frustrated by what he perceived to be an evening on the European stage in which his team-mates would simply not help him out.
It’s a sad state of affairs, given that Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and looks set to call time on his silverware-laden spell at the Etihad.
It would be a crying shame for things not to end amicably and on joyous terms for Aguero this season, but does he have a point or was it just an angry reaction to a game he failed to get involved in?
Sportsmail took a closer look at the numbers…
Aguero came on to replace Bernardo Silva on 75 minutes against Borussia Monchengladbach, with City leading 4-0 on aggregate and the tie already won.
But the 32-year-old failed to register a shot on target and, at the full-time whistle, was heard grumbling to a coach after the game, according to ESPN.
During his 15 minutes on the field Aguero did not get a sniff on goal and looked relatively marginalised in the final third.
One instance in particular saw Riyad Mahrez opt to shoot when presented with a chance inside the box in the closing stages, instead of seeking out Aguero who had taken up an advanced position.
The Algerian winger, who has been in prolific form, could not find the back of the net though, with his shots throughout either off target or saved by Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer.
Aguero has endured a difficult season with form and fitness – his contract is up this summer
When it comes specifically to Aguero however, the veteran striker received a total of just three passes, meaning he was given the ball just once every five minutes he was on the pitch, before heading off back down the tunnel.
Strikers, particularly those at the elite level of the game, enjoying having the ball as frequently as possible; that much is a fact.
Yet when it comes to players like Aguero, the level of control and finishing is so high that fewer passes are actually required throughout a game, purely because their conversation rate is so sharp.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Tottenham’s Harry Kane fall into a similar bracket.
So, with that in mind, was this really a case of marginalisation with Aguero, or was he simply aggrieved that certain clear cut chances did not come his way when his team-mates could have facilitated them?
Taking City’s recent 3-0 victory over Fulham as a comparison point, Aguero played his first full 90 minutes after returning from injury and the figures make for interesting reading.
The Argentine was successfully passed to by a team-mate on 22 occasions, giving a minutes-per-reception average of 4.1.
We see therefore that, in relation to the time spent on the pitch, Aguero was passed to just as much against Fulham as he was against Gladbach.
The difference? Aguero had a full afternoon of football against the Cottagers and the larger expanse of time makes it much easier to forget about the ticking down of the clock.
Against Gladbach in Budapest Mahrez opted to shoot in once instance rather than find Aguero
Aguero had also found the back of the net at Craven Cottage, slotting home a penalty on the hour mark after Tosin Adarabioyo brought down Ferran Torres.
It was just Aguero’s first Premier League goal this season, from eight starts in an injury-plagued campaign. A sure trigger for being able to momentarily raise the spirits and focus on the good elements of the match.
Indeed, looking back across a collection of Aguero’s last 14 games for the club, the average total of minutes which go by before he receives a pass sits between 4 and 5.5.
Against Gladbach the circumstances were much different than the norm. Aguero knew he was coming into a Champions League level match with the result already beyond doubt, therefore a striker of his calibre would naturally place heavy expectation on his own shoulders to make a goal-scoring contribution in the last 15 against a side who are already down-and-out.
When City met Gladbach for the first leg of the fixture, Aguero again only made a brief ten minute cameo and received just three passes (with a mins-per-reception ratio of 3.3).
It would be fair to consider that this may have been playing on the mind of the former Atletico Madrid man, who has won every trophy there is to win in club football with City, bar the Champions League.
This is the trophy Aguero craves and time is running out for him to lift it in a blue shirt.
This season City have found a way to win without relying on the output of Aguero
The Argentine did however find the back from the penalty spot in his recent return at Fulham
Interestingly, one match out of Aguero’s last 14 drastically bucks the trend when it comes to the amount of minutes going by before he receives a pass.
This match was City’s final showdown in the Champions League group stages back in October, when Aguero played 68 minutes against Portuguese giants Porto but only received the ball on seven occasions.
An average total of almost 10 minutes (9.7) kept ticking by before Aguero was considered and found by a team-mate. This, in contrast to Tuesday night’s clash with Gladback, would have given him more cause to complain.
Again, however, Aguero found the back of the net from the penalty spot in this match in question, allowing the serotonin to course through the body and the positives outweigh any negatives of seeing little of the ball.
Could it be then that Aguero is simply suffering from the frustrations of being pegged back by injury and not being able to make the mark that he once did on the European stage – the one which now matters most to him?
Against West Ham United in February, Aguero played 61 minutes and was passed to 22 times. Every 2.8 minutes therefore he was receiving the ball, suggesting his team-mates were channeling their every attacking opportunity through him.
City won the game 2-1, though the goals surprisingly came from centre-back duo John Stones and Ruben Dias.
Aguero has scored three goals in total this season and has been linked with a return to Spain
Aguero has been in and out of the side since, though City have continued to string together a remarkable winning run – aside one recent defeat in the Manchester derby.
Pep Guardiola’s men therefore have figured out a way to win without relying on Aguero, which bodes well for the seasons to come. It could, likewise, explain why Mahrez opted to shoot rather than pass on Tuesday night.
Nevertheless, this leaves the Premier League icon in a sticky situation. Though he may feel he was largely neglected by those around him against Gladbach, he was picked out no less frequently than usual.
A sustained run of games will undoubtedly help Aguero get back to his electric best, but the doubts creeping into his mind could be troublesome.
Until he is fully flying once more, the Premier League icon must concentrate on his fluency and not allow himself to get bogged down by perceptions of mistreatment.
A surge to the Champions League final could yet depend upon it.
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