EPL

Aguero retires: Diminutive in stature but a giant of the game – the Opta numbers behind a great

By Sports Desk December 15, 2021

Sergio Aguero has decided to retire.

The Barcelona forward announced his decision in a statement on Wednesday that was delivered at an event featuring president Joan Laporta and the club's first-team players.

Aguero, who starred for Atletico Madrid before becoming a Manchester City great, suffered chest pain in the draw with Deportivo Alaves on October 30, which the club confirmed was down to a heart arrhythmia.

After consultations with specialists, the Argentina international has been told it is too much of a risk to continue playing.

Barcelona were the last club Aguero played and scored for in a storied career, but it'll be his exploits for Manchester City that will be remembered most fondly in the football world.

He left the club earlier this year after a decade in Manchester that cemented his status as one of City's greatest ever players – he made an immediate impact upon joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011, plundering 23 top-flight goals in his first season, including the dramatic stoppage-time winner against QPR on the final day of the campaign to seal their first-ever Premier League title. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the legacy of Aguero's exceptional career as a matchwinner and goalscorer. 

Aguero untouchable as City's leading marksman

No City player comes close to Aguero's simply outstanding scoring record.

He left City having scored 184 times in the Premier League at a rate of one every 108 minutes, the best frequency of any player to net at least 20 in the competition's history.

The City player closest to that ratio (min. 20 goals) is Edin Dzeko, who scored a goal every 141.6 minutes for City in the English top flight. 

City's second-highest scorer in the Premier League is Raheem Sterling, though he is 102 goals adrift of Aguero on 82.

Behind Sterling is Yaya Toure (62), followed by David Silva (60), Carlos Tevez (58) and Dzeko (50).

Even when you extend it to all competitions throughout City's history, no one gets within 80 goals of Aguero, with his 260 well clear of Eric Brook (177).

In esteemed Premier League company

Sadly, the final season of Aguero's Premier League stint was blighted by injuries, restricting him to just 12 appearances and four goals.

Nevertheless, he departed England as an all-time great such was his consistent excellence in front of goal.

Indeed, only three players have scored more than his 184 in the competition: Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andrew Cole (187). 

All three, however, required significantly more minutes to score each goal, with Aguero's rate (one every 108 mins) comfortably better than Shearer's 146.86, Rooney's 182.78 and Cole's 169.14. 

Thierry Henry is the only player to have gotten close to a similar standard in the Premier League, with the Frenchman netting every 122 minutes on average – Mohamed Salah might fancy his chances of rivalling Aguero, however. His 111 goals have been scored at a rate of one every 127 minutes.

One-club man… sort of

Aguero's goal frequency was just one of several areas where he stands out in front, though.

Of course, he was never able to topple Alan Shearer's overall record for Premier League goals (260), but Aguero has scored more goals than anyone else for a single club.

His final goal for City, a header in a 5-0 demolition of Everton back in May, saw him overtake Wayne Rooney's haul of 183 for one club (Manchester United).

Remarkably, Aguero needed 118 fewer matches to reach the landmark than Rooney, which is saying something.

Harry Kane (167) may yet surpass Aguero – though if he ultimately ends up being the Argentinian's 'heir' at City, that record may stand for quite a while.

A box of hat-tricks

It's arguable the Premier League has never seen a more insatiable striker.

Some might be tempted to kick back once they have one or two goals – sure, a hat-trick would be nice, but their job is already done…

That certainly wasn't the case with Aguero, who was utterly relentless.

His 12 Premier League hat-tricks is a record and will likely remain the benchmark for years given only Shearer (11) has reached double figures for trebles in the competition.

It wasn't a case of Aguero filling his boots against the same lowly opposition all the time either. He only got more than one hat-trick against two teams (two each versus Newcastle United and Chelsea).

One of those hat-tricks against Newcastle came in a remarkable five-goal haul back in October 2015, helping City to a 6-1 victory. Granted, four players had managed such a feat before, though Aguero did his damage in just 66 minutes on the pitch – the previous quartet all played for 90 minutes.

Among Europe's elite finishers

Rightly or not, Aguero was probably too much of a pure finisher to ever really be considered in the same standing as players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who generally scored and contributed more in general.

But there's little doubt the Independiente youth product was one of the finest forwards of his generation.

Since January 1, 2000, only five players – Cristiano Ronaldo (483), Lionel Messi (475), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (300), Robert Lewandowski (295) and Edinson Cavani (261) – have scored more goals in Europe's 'big five' leagues than Aguero (259) across his spells with Atleti, City and Barca.

His minutes-per-goal rate jumps slightly to one every 128 minutes when factoring in his time in LaLiga, which puts him 10th among players to have scored at least 150 goals in the major European leagues, but let's not forget that includes his days as a teenager as well as last season when he was having to battle fitness issues.

Sadly, we never got to see Aguero return to the heights he scaled during his peak at City, with injuries restricting him to only five appearances for Barcelona.

But given the circumstances surrounding his retirement, things could have been a lot worse. This farewell gives us the chance to happily reflect on what a privilege it was to watch Sergio 'Kun' Aguero.

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