Aguero joins Barcelona: New boy expects Messi to stay, but will Pep arrive next?

By Sports Desk May 31, 2021

Sergio Aguero signed on the dotted line at Barcelona but refused to discuss the possibility of Pep Guardiola following him from Manchester City to Camp Nou.

Barcelona are in a state of upheaval amid doubts over Ronald Koeman's future, with club president Joan Laporta describing the Dutchman as "a coach that we did not ask for" on Monday.

Laporta has not excluded the possibility of Koeman staying in charge for the second year of his contract, but it appears the club are also looking at alternative options to come in and take charge.

Aguero is also thought of as a potential upgrade on the talent Barcelona have as striking options, besides Lionel Messi, having become Manchester City's record goalscorer during a highly successful decade in England.

The new recruit also said he thought Messi would be staying at Barcelona, continuing their partnership from the Argentina national team.

However, asked about the possibility of Barcelona re-hiring Guardiola, who coached the Blaugrana from 2008 to 2012, Aguero stayed well clear.

He said: "I don't have the right to talk about that. He has a contract with City and I'm not the one who has to talk about the coach."

The 'one' would be Laporta, the president who was elected in March. His predecessor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, appointed Koeman.

Asked about the latest situation with Koeman, during what was Aguero's presentation news conference, Laporta said: "I already said that we have started a period of reflection, for the reasons I said.

"As he was a coach that we did not ask for, we needed that period. There are contacts, I have already said that he is a coach with a current contract and our will is to respect it as long as this period of reflection occurs."

Koeman almost led Barcelona to a domestic double in 2020-21, but a dip in league form over the closing weeks of the season meant their charge since the turn of the year was only good enough for third place in LaLiga. They won the Copa del Rey, but that may not be enough to save him.

Laporta was also questioned about whether Aguero had been brought in to please captain Messi, who has yet to sign a new contract with his current deal to expire at the end of June.

The president replied, according to Mundo Deportivo: "The signing of Aguero is because he is a desired player and an exceptional player. It is the first of a series of signings that you will get to know. Naturally, we want Messi to continue."

The news conference was perhaps a sign of what Aguero can expect at Barcelona, at least in the short term. Messi signing a new deal would bring a sense of calm to proceedings, as would clarity on the coaching situation.

Aguero is looking forward to playing with his compatriot on a week-by-week basis.

He said the prime motivation to join his new club was: "To be at Barca, where the best player in the world is.

"If he [Messi] continues here, which I think he will, we will try to do our best, as we have always done, in the national team."

Laporta could announce a new signing every day of this week – and he might yet, with Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum heavily linked – but the coaching situation also needs to be a priority.

Aguero steered away from recommending Guardiola's appointment, but spoke of his admiration for the City coach.

"We all know that Pep, since he arrived at City, has proposed a different football," Aguero said. "He proposes to keep the ball all the time and to keep that is important. It made me and the whole team better."

Injuries and a COVID-19 absence caused Aguero to miss chunks of the 2020-21 season, but he came through a medical on Monday and said his left knee, which was operated on last June, was "perfectly fine".

Messi has benefited from some outstanding forwards lining up alongside him during his Barcelona career, notably David Villa, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Barcelona averaged 2.7 goals per game when Villa and Messi played together, and it was the same when Neymar played with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, dipping to 2.6 when Messi and Suarez featured in the same side.

There are overlaps to bear in mind when looking at those figures, but not in the case of Villa who left Barca in July 2013, with Neymar arriving effectively as his replacement. Suarez then came in a year later from Liverpool.

Neymar departed for Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017, while Suarez was sold to Atletico Madrid last year.

Barcelona's win percentage stood at 74.1 per cent when Neymar and Messi played in the same team, 73.6 per cent with Villa and 73.2 per cent with Suarez.

Yet Barca's points per game were curiously slightly lower at 2.3 when Messi played with Neymar compared to when Suarez and Villa were in the team alongside the little maestro (2.4).

It was a sign of the times that Barcelona, led by Guardiola for two of Villa's three seasons, averaged 71.8 per cent possession while the Spain striker was at Camp Nou. When Messi and Neymar played together that figure was 67.2 per cent and when Messi and Suarez teamed up it was 65.3 per cent.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar frequently played in the same side, forming the feared 'MSN' forward line.

Related items

  • New heading guidance introduced across all levels of English football New heading guidance introduced across all levels of English football

    Guidance on heading will be introduced to every level of English football for the 2021-22 campaign, the Football Association (FA) has announced.

    The new heading guidance has been agreed between the relevant bodies and will be applicable from the Premier League down to grassroots football and across the England national teams.

    The advice will not affect football matches or the rules of the game, but instead the heading that occurs in training sessions, where most heading is performed.

    Based on multiple studies by the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee, the initial focus of the guidance involves high-force headers, which usually follow a long pass (more than 35 metres) or from crosses and set-pieces.

    The headers branded 'high force' will be limited to 10 per any training week, with clubs also recommended to develop tailormade player profiles to protect welfare.

    While club staff will be encouraged to monitor recovery from heading exposure, further guidance also identifies how to produce lower-force headers – for example, throwing a ball for a header instead of kicking it.

    Due to early evidence suggesting neck muscle is important for higher-force heading, a strength and conditioning advisory panel will identify safe ways to improve neck and torso strength.

    Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "Our priority is to make the game as safe as possible for all players.

    "We have worked collaboratively across football to undertake these initial research projects to help us further understand the impact of heading and inform guidance for all levels of the game.

    "This is a long-term piece of work. We will now build on these studies and we remain committed to further research to ensure we have the right approach in place to protect the welfare of all players."

    For amateur clubs, the guidance is for heading practice to be limited to one session per week and no more than 10 headers a session, with players expected to monitor themselves.

    This guidance aims to reduce overall exposure and improve welfare, while not affecting personal development of heading technique.

    At youth level, guidelines have been in place since February 2020, with further updates being published on Wednesday.

    FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said: "We already have the most comprehensive guidelines in the world for youth football and now we are introducing, in partnership with the other football bodies, the most comprehensive adult football guidelines anywhere.

    "Our heading guidance now reaches across all players, at all levels of the game.

    "These measures have been developed following studies with coaches and medics and represent a cautious approach while we learn more.

    "We are committed to further medical research to gain an understanding of any risks within football, in the meantime this reduces a potential risk factor.

    "Overall it is important to remember that the overwhelming medical evidence is that football and other sports have positive impacts on both mental and physical health."

    The relevant governing bodies will continue research before another formal review in June 2020 as football attempts to protect players' long-term health.

  • Depay convinced he can form partnership with 'compatible' Messi and Aguero Depay convinced he can form partnership with 'compatible' Messi and Aguero

    Memphis Depay is confident he can form a balanced front three with Lionel Messi and fellow new signing Sergio Aguero at Barcelona.

    Netherlands attacker Depay joined Barca as a free agent when his Lyon contract expired on July 1 and scored a penalty on his debut in Saturday's 3-1 friendly win over Girona.

    The 27-year-old got his career back on track at Lyon following a disappointing spell with Manchester United, scoring 76 goals in 178 appearance for the Ligue 1 side.

    Depay played mainly as a centre-forward in the French top flight last season and scored 20 goals – only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27) netted more.

    He also showed his ability to create for others by laying on 12 assists and creating 94 chances, which were more than any other player managed in Ligue 1 in 2020-21.

    And the PSV academy product believes he is capable of playing with ex-Manchester City striker Aguero and Messi, who is expected to sign a new deal to remain at Camp Nou.

    "We are all attackers, but we are all different in my opinion," Depay told Sport. "I have different abilities and strengths than Aguero, for example, or any other player.

    "I think the three of us are compatible and different. But we will see how everything goes.

    "It would be amazing to play with Messi and I hope that is possible. He has a number of qualities that the team needs and it's important to build everything around that.

    "There is a lot of talent here. It would be great to play alongside him and win titles."

     

    Depay previously played under Barca head coach Ronald Koeman for the Netherlands national side and is glad to have reunited with his compatriot in Catalonia.

    "He has had a great impact on me," Depay said. "He changed the Netherlands team and counted on me, giving me confidence. 

    "Now he is counting on me for this adventure, so he has undoubtedly been an important figure in my career.

    "I know him and how he trains, so it's easier for me to adapt. I know what he expects of me after working together for a long time.

    "Even with him on the bench it will obviously not be easy, but without him it would have been different."

    Depay has been labelled a "rebellious" figure during his career to date but, citing comparisons to former Barca player Luis Suarez, is not fazed by that tag.

    "I think 'rebellious' is often used as a negative, but sometimes you can use it as a good thing," he said. 

    "Sometimes if you are rebellious on the field it can give you something extra and help you win the game. 

    "For example, Luis Suarez has won many games and scored many goals without being the nicest and sweetest person in the world. 

    "Maybe because of my appearance people may think that I am a rebellious boy. When you meet me, you see that I am a normal guy, like any other person. 

    "Maybe I'm a little different because of the way I express myself, how I make music. I may be more misunderstood for that. 

    "But boy, I don't mind being called a rebel. People have a feeling about me that may either be very good or they may not like. 

    "The truth is that everyone is free to create their own opinion, their image."

  • Lewandowski definitely staying at Bayern for next two seasons, says president Hainer Lewandowski definitely staying at Bayern for next two seasons, says president Hainer

    Robert Lewandowski will definitely not leave Bayern Munich in the next two years, according to the German champions' president Herbert Hainer.

    The prolific striker was crowned Germany’s Footballer of the Year for 2021 last week after scoring 41 Bundesliga goals to break Gerd Muller's long-standing single-season record.

    His 48 goals in all competitions were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five league in 2020-21, followed by Kylian Mbappe (42) and Erling Haaland (41).

    Lewandowski has netted 294 goals in 329 appearances overall for Bayern since joining from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, including 203 in 219 league games.

    But the 32-year-old has been linked with a move away from the Allianz Arena this transfer window, with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City all reportedly interested in striking a deal.

    However, new boss Julian Nagelsmann recently said he is not bothered by the speculation and president Hainer has reiterated Lewandowski is going nowhere while under contract until 2023.

    "Firstly, in my opinion, Lewandowski is the best striker in the world. We are so happy that we have him in our team," he told Goal.

    "He still has two more years on his contract. He will definitely play those with Bayern Munch. I said it already a few weeks ago – I could imagine him staying with us for even longer. 

    "He will honour his contract. He will definitely play the next two seasons here at Bayern Munich."

     

    Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has previously been touted as a possible replacement for Lewandowski, but Bayern are not currently in the market for a new striker.

    "As I said, Robert will definitely be here for the next two seasons with Bayern. Then we will look for a successor," Hainer said.

    Joshua Kimmich is another valuable Bayern player who has two years to run on his existing deal, while Manchester United-linked Leon Goretzka is set to become a free agent at the end of 2021-22.

    Both players returned to training this week after being given an extended break following their Euro 2020 exertions and talks over fresh terms will soon commence.

    "As you know, they went on holiday after the European Championship," Hainer said. "They were back yesterday in the training sessions.

    "Now we have time to talk to them. And hopefully, within the next week, we will find agreements with them."

    Bayern play their third friendly of pre-season on Wednesday with a home match against fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

    Nagelsmann's men then face Napoli before beginning their 2021-22 campaign with a DFB-Pokal tie against lower-league opposition Bremer SV on August 6.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.