Whether he is starring in the Premier League for Manchester City or soaking up the applause of the fanatical Argentina crowd, Sergio Aguero is used to playing a pivotal role. But when he takes the pitch, El Kun is also adept at adapting his game depending on which shirt he is wearing.
The ex-Independiente wonderkid was crucial in the Citizens' triumph in the league this year. During the season, he alternated positions in Manuel Pellegrini's flexible 4-2-3-1 formation.
At times, the Argentinian took up more of a creative role behind Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo. At others, Pellegrini would trust him to lead the forward line on his own. A record of 17 goals in 23 Premier League games, and 28 in 34 during an overall campaign that was interrupted somewhat by niggling injuries, tells you everything you need to know about Aguero's effectiveness.
When El Kun lined up for City, the team was almost unstoppable. Pellegrini's men lost just four of the 23 encounters where Aguero was present, winning an impressive 16 of those games. His contribution was key—as revealed by WhoScored.com, as well as his goals he added another six assists for the club in Premier League play.
Aguero is far from a selfish player. His running and passing shows he has plenty of self-sacrifice to help his team succeed. Squawka's review of the player's season also paints a picture of a complete player. Aside from his 17 goals, a passing accuracy of 85 percent, 34 chances created and a 60 percent shot accuracy reveals a forward almost without flaws.
But while Aguero is used to taking a protagonist role playing in England, when he switches to international duty a whole new facet of his game comes to light.
He is still a constant presence in the final third. But the attacking burden on Aguero is lightened by playing alongside three of the finest attackers in the world football. With Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi primarily responsible for putting the ball in the net—a fact demonstrated by the 19 smashed between them during World Cup qualifying—and Angel Di Maria bombing down the left, El Kun's role becomes that of a vital support.
The Manchester City man plays as a linkman between defence and midfield. With Di Maria as his partner in crime, he works up the pitch from the centre-circle, connecting with Messi slightly upfield to get the Argentinian attack in motion.
It is a role that demands great sacrifice and heart, making the hard yards across the opposition half. This is one of the primary reasons Carlos Tevez, who fought Aguero incessantly for that third striker position in the Albiceleste, eventually lost ground. Both are supremely talented players, but Aguero's will to play for his opponents gives him the edge for coach Alejandro Sabella.
That is not to say Aguero does not get a taste in the glory. He finished with five goals during the World Cup qualification campaign and has notched eight of his 21 in international colours under Sabella. His heroic entry and goal to lead his side to a comeback victory against Colombia in Barranquilla shows why he is such an asset to the team.
Watch closely who begins the move that leads to Argentina's winner. It is Aguero, who came off the bench to revitalise a moribund Albiceleste, who opens up the pitch against tired Colombia with a pass to Messi deep in his own half. He then fades out of the picture as La Pulga and Higuain advance on goal.
But he is not static. In the fierce tropical heat, Aguero is surging forward off-camera. When David Ospina denies Higuain, the third member of Argentina's attacking trident arrives, poking the ball home to give the visitors what turned out to be a landmark triumph in their qualifying campaign.
The embarrassment of riches the Seleccion boasts up front means that El Kun cannot always take centre-stage as he does in the Etihad Stadium, but that is just fine with him. Whether he is a penalty-area forward or a member of the supporting cast, Aguero has the talent and commitment to regularly put himself squarely in the spotlight.
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