20 Reasons Why Manchester City's Sergio Aguero Can Win the 2014 Ballon D'Or
After his friend and fellow Argentinean Lionel Messi missed out on a fifth Ballon d'Or crown in a row in 2013, Sergio Aguero might be determined to be the player who brings the famous old trophy back to his country this year.
Many would see the award as a straight shootout between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but after Franck Ribery got so close to it last year―indeed, the Frenchman was many pundits' favourite for it until the final couple of months of 2013―perhaps we'll see a different winner in this World Cup year.
Aguero, although suffering from injury problems in the past couple of months, has established himself as one of the best forwards in the Premier League as he's hit goal after goal for Manchester City this season, whilst he'll be a key man in Argentina's challenge in Brazil in the summer.
But what will it take for Aguero to win it? And what qualities does he have that make him stand out from other players?
Here we take a look at just what could see him shoot to the top of the world game:
He Could Be Part of One of the Great World Cup Partnerships
Brazil's Romario and Bebeto perhaps hold the crown as the greatest-ever World Cup partnership due to their success and goals during Brazil's 1994 win in the US, but Aguero and Messi could surpass that 20 years later.
Both possess outstanding ability and a happy knack of putting the ball into the back of the net, and if they do light up the world stage together in the summer, then surely both will be in contention for world football's greatest individual prize?
The race for the Golden Boot could also be the race for the Ballon d'Or.
He Could Win the World Cup Golden Boot
Who knows? Aguero might even outshine Messi in Brazil.
Both have suffered injuries this season, but Aguero's have been more of the niggling variety and once he gets over them, he will be fully tuned up for an assault on several countries' defences in the summer.
The Manchester City man has certainly got the energy, effort and enthusiasm levels to succeed in tournament football, and if he blasts the goals that win Argentina glory, then he should be rewarded.
He Could Win the World Cup Golden Ball
There is much more to Aguero's game than just goalscoring, though, and he has the quality to outshine Messi, Ronaldo and the rest of the stars on show in the summer to claim the World Cup's Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player.
The likes of Aguero's former father-in-law Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and (Brazilian) Ronaldo have won the trophy in the past, with Diego Forlan taking it at the last tournament in South Africa in 2010.
A victory for Aguero would give him a good chance of the Ballon d'Or and ensure that the 2014 World Cup would be remembered for his quality.
Argentina Could Win the World Cup
Regardless of any of the personal or dual success of their deadly strike partnership, Argentina could still sweep to glory in the summer and ensure that their players are handsomely rewarded.
Placed in what looks to be an extremely gentle group alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, the Argentineans will expect at least a place in the quarter-finals, from where they will look to kick on and really make an impact on their home continent.
A third World Cup victory could see one of their players crowned as the world's best in 2014, and Aguero will look to be near the head of that queue.
He's Doing It for His Former Father-in-Law
Diego Maradona never won the Ballon d'Or, but that is because he wasn't allowed to.
It wasn't until 1995 that the vote was expanded to include non-European players playing at European clubs―with the Liberian George Weah of AC Milan the winner that year―and so El Diego's 11 years spent at Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla were ineligible.
He might now be having a word or two with his former son-in-law in order to win the award for the extended family and put right what he probably sees as a wrong.
His Manager Is Doing All He Can to Help Him
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has proven to be a fine influence on Aguero, with the Chilean making him the linchpin of his team and building an often fierce attack around him.
The former Malaga manager knows that the Argentinean is vital to what he wants to achieve, and he told Marca that he sees the forward's future in Manchester, saying:
I don't think Kun will go back to Spain. City is a great place to be for our key players like Kun and Yaya Toure. If he goes to Real, he will be playing in Ronaldo's team. And the same goes for Barça, which is Messi's team. Here, a team is being built around him. He will be a contender for the Ballon d'Or in the next two years.
He Is His Team's Key Man
As Pellegrini says, Aguero has more chance of standing out at City because he is the main man in his team.
Although they possess such talents as Yaya Toure, David Silva, Alvaro Negredo and plenty of other attacking threats, City seem to come alive more and more when their Argentinean ace is leading their line.
He is their inspiration and their key figure, and so doesn't quite slip through the cracks that players at the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona do in the shadows of Ronaldo and Messi. If City are successful, then the chances are that Aguero will have helped them there.
Manchester City Could Win the Premier League
Handily placed just three points off the top of the table as the Premier League season moves towards an exciting conclusion, Manchester City will be banking on Aguero to score them the goals which will secure a second top-flight title in three years.
The Argentinean's freshness will be crucial in the closing weeks of the season, and if he can get them over the line―as he so spectacularly did in the closing stages of the 2011/12 season―then it will only add more fuel to the argument that he should be recognised amongst the top footballing stars on the planet.
He Could Mastermind One of the Great Champions League Comebacks
If, and it's a big if, City come back from two goals down to beat Barcelona in the Nou Camp and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, then there is every chance that Aguero will have played a key part in it.
It would also be one of the standout football results and performances of the year, and would certainly be uppermost in plenty of minds when voting for the Ballon d'Or takes place later this year.
Can they do it? Stranger things have happened, although admittedly not many...
Manchester City Could Still Win an Historic Quadruple, or at Least a Treble
Surely a stunning haul of four trophies in the same season would ensure that one of City's stars be recognised on a global level?
Aguero and his teammates are in the Capital One Cup final, the FA Cup quarter-finals and well-placed in the Premier League, and although Barca inflicted that potentially fatal blow in the Champions League, if they were to pull off the unprecedented feat of winning everything, then their forward will enter the World Cup in highest of spirits.
If he impresses there, then the Ballon d'Or could be his.
He Could Still Catch Luis Suarez for Premier League Top Scorer
Whisper it quietly, but the goals have dried up a little recently for Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan has just one strike in his last seven games for Liverpool, and whilst his Reds teammate Daniel Sturridge has now overtaken Aguero to sit second in the Premier League's top goalscorers' list, Aguero will still be hunting down the both of them.
The Argentinean has 15, Sturridge 16 and Suarez 23, but if the City forward goes on a strong run between now and the end of the season and Liverpool struggle, he could just pip the prolific partnership to the prize.
He Could Be Crowned Premier League Player of the Season
Suarez and Chelsea's Eden Hazard are likely to be the key rivals here, but a late burst of goals from Aguero could also see him sweep the board in the Premier League's player of the season awards ahead of the Uruguayan and the Belgian.
Of course, that doesn't automatically translate to being in contention for the Ballon d'Or, but it does add yet another compelling aspect to the argument.
Aguero has frequently lit up England's top flight this season, just as the other two have, and perhaps he'll end up with an award or two for his efforts.
No World Cup for Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The winner of this year's Ballon d'Or will surely have to have performed on the greatest football stage of all in Brazil in the summer, and so that will rule out one of the world's biggest stars.
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't be in action in South America―with the hat-trick from Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in a World Cup play-off against the Swedes one of the key reasons why he picked up the 2013 award.
Ibrahimovic's absence will sadden many who want to see all of the best players in the world at the event, but it also eliminates one of Aguero's Ballon d'Or rivals.
No-One Seems to Dislike Him
Other than "that" moment against QPR back in May 2012, there are even Manchester United supporters who like Aguero. There's nothing really to dislike about him.
Whilst other players may provoke anger due to their antics or a perceived arrogance, Aguero usually plays within the spirit of the game and has attracted plenty of admirers for doing just that.
The forward is always up there when Premier League fans are discussing their favourite players within the division and the ones they'd like to see playing for their team, and although nice guys don't always finish first, in Aguero's case he's got the quality to back it up.
It's Tough for Him in the Premier League
Is the Premier League a tougher division to play in than La Liga? There is no way to ever truly find out, but what is clear is that Aguero's City have often blazed a trail through it like many have never seen before at times this season.
Whereas big wins might be more commonplace for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and Messi's Barcelona, in the Premier League they were a little less common until City started blasting teams away at regular intervals.
Aguero was a key element in that, and it has only added to his stellar reputation worldwide.
Although not especially tall, considered to be a physical presence or thought of as one of the fastest players around, Aguero consistently shows his power in and around the box on almost a match-by-match basis.
His now trademark bursts across the penalty area to get a shot away have become one of the best facets of his game―witness an effort which hit the woodwork at Tottenham earlier this year, or a goal in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford last season―and there are very few defenders who can get anywhere near him once he starts to burst away from them.
The Signing of Alvaro Negredo Has Helped Him
Injury to both has stalled the Aguero-Alvaro Negredo partnership following its strong beginning this season, but the purchase of the Sevilla man has added so much to the Argentinean's game because he can drop a little deeper and get involved in the play more.
This has seen Aguero become a more well-rounded, complete player, and one who doesn't have to constantly run channels and forage upfront for his chances.
Negredo's quality has perhaps surprised even City's fans this season, and he's inspired both those same supporters and their Argentinean idol.
He Has Become the Modern Forward
In the modern game, you can't define yourself as merely one type of player, especially as a forward.
The current crop of top goal-getters have to be comfortable playing as a lone striker, as part of a partnership, dropping deep to aid midfield and also popping up out wide on occasion should the manager opt to field three players up top.
Aguero is the epitome of the modern player who can perform in all of these different positions for his team, with his value to his team and manager certainly not able to be understated.
Change Is Good
Ribery's strong bid for the award last year attracted plenty of attention as the Frenchman made an effort to break up the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly on these types of awards.
Aguero could crash the party, too, and that should be welcomed as football looks to embrace new superstars who can eventually take over from the old ones.
Still just 25 years old, Aguero is younger than both Ronaldo and Messi and could pave the way for other, younger stars to take over from the "big two" in years to come.
He's the Man for the Big Occasion
With goals against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United this season, Aguero has showcased that he is Manchester City's man for the big occasion and the big game.
He'll be hoping to repeat that status throughout his club's big matches in 2014, with everything we've read here suggesting that that's exactly what he can do.
But it'll be the World Cup which truly defines this Ballon d'Or year, and on the biggest stage of all, Aguero can outshine plenty of his rivals.