Sergio Aguero: Is free agent from Manchester City really what Ronald Koeman's Barcelona needed this summer?
The 32-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Barcelona after leaving Manchester City as a free agent. Sergio Aguero will fill a hole in Ronald Koeman's squad, but what does his arrival at the Camp Nou say about the Liga's club overall direction? Is he really what they needed in the summer transfer window?
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City walks in from warm up ahead of the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on May 01, 2021 in London, England
If Barcelona planned on causing a splash by announcing the signing of Sergio Aguero, they were thwarted by Pep Guardiola who confirmed over a week ago that the Argentine was on his way to the Camp Nou. And by whoever prematurely leaked on the club’s own site that Aguero would be presented as a Barca player on Monday evening.
Indeed, Aguero’s move to Barcelona had become European football’s worst-kept secret. This was a signing weeks, months even, in the making and so there was no element of surprise by the time confirmation arrived. However, reflection on what Aguero’s signing means for Barca is still required.
Considering Barcelona were so keen to get rid of one ageing striker with injury problems only 12 months ago, it’s somewhat baffling they have now signed another in his place. Of course, Luis Suarez underlined Barca’s mistake by firing Atletico Madrid to the Spanish title, but there was at least strategic logic behind letting him go to lower the squad’s average age.
The signing of a 32-year-old Aguero on a two-year contract hints at a lack of direction at boardroom level. Do Barcelona really know what they want their squad to look like in a few years’ time? Is there that level of foresight being applied to this summer’s recruitment plan? Or is it purely about signing big name players on the cheap to appease fans?
In many ways, Aguero will be a good fit for Barcelona. The Argentine is technically adept in possession and has that wriggly quality Luis Suarez has - even when he appears to have been knocked off the ball, he somehow finds a way to keep it and get a shot away. A few years ago, Aguero would have been the perfect Barca striker.
He might still prove to be a good addition. Look at the impact Edinson Cavani has made at Manchester United amid concerns over his age and fitness levels. With the right conditioning and man-management, Aguero could enjoy a fruitful final phase of his career at the Camp Nou.
It’s certainly true that Barcelona need a natural penalty box finisher. Antoine Griezmann has just enjoyed his best season at the Camp Nou to date, but the Frenchman isn’t a true number nine. Martin Braithwaite has contributed, but he is little more than an option to rotate. The Dane simply isn’t good enough to be Barca’s first-choice centre forward.
Aguero will address this deficiency, but his signing only kicks the can further down the road for Barcelona. He is not the long-term investment Erling Haaland, linked with a move to the Camp Nou, would have been. Barca have merely bought themselves more time to figure things out by handing Aguero a contract.
Erling Haaland spielt seit Januar 2020 beim BVB
Image credit: Getty Images
In isolation, Aguero is a potentially shrewd addition. While he struggled for consistent game time in his final season at Manchester City, his last few appearances for the club suggested there is more left in the tank. Barcelona will create chances for their new centre forward. Aguero will enjoy leading the line for such a dangerous attacking outfit.
But as part of a summer window that will see Barca spend next to nothing on free agents such as Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum, it’s a signing that provides more questions than answers even if such transfer market caution is necessary due to the club’s precarious financial state.
Perhaps the biggest positive of Aguero’s signing, from Barcelona’s point of view, is what it could mean for Lionel Messi’s future. Such is the close friendship between the pair, it seems highly unlikely the Argentine would leave his countryman so soon after his arrival. Regardless of all other factors, it’s understandable Barca have made the bet Aguero and Messi will mesh just as well on the pitch as they do off it.