The Manchester City boss once again sent a message to his striker, praising his ability but then pointing out that he needs to play a bigger role for the club
Pep Guardiola has questioned Sergio Aguero’s mentality, saying he must step up and realise his importance to Manchester City.
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Guardiola and Aguero appear to have shared a complicated relationship since they started working together this summer and this is the latest in a series of pointed warnings from the City boss.
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Guardiola has praised the striker on a number of occasions but has also gone out of his way to stress a need for improvement in several aspects of his game.
The former Barcelona boss stated early in the season that he wants the Argentine to do more defensive work, and it is also understood there is a disappointment at the striker’s lack of movement when City’s midfielders are in possession.
But Guardiola responded to recent rumours that Aguero could leave the club this summer by stressing that he wants him to stay at the Etihad Stadium for the long-term.
After Aguero scored twice against West Brom on Saturday to help City on their way to their first win in seven matches, however, Guardiola once again picked his moment to make a point.
He had already praised the Argentine as a “special player” and then, in the same breath, hinted that he needs to change his attitude.
And he then he made the claim that Aguero is as good as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo – names put forward by a reporter – before adding a significant caveat.
“In the box he is at that level,” Guardiola said, before adding: “Aguero has to convince. He is one of the nicest players I ever trained in my career. It is a pleasure for me to work with nice people and Sergio is one of the best ones by far, but to convince him he has to believe how good he is and how we need him.
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“He has to try. It is not about how many he scores because we are happy with the scoring, if he doesn’t score it is not because I am not happy with him, with his behaviour or body language. When he is good everything can happen in our team.”
But when it was suggested that Guardiola may want Aguero to show more of a mean streak, he disagreed: “Never in his career was he aggressive, I don’t want Aguero to [chase] the central defenders, I don’t want Aguero to jump higher than the other defenders, they are taller than him.
“I am talking about he has to feel how important he is for us. When he is happy of course all the team is happy.”
Guardiola shared a warm embrace with Aguero after the final whistle at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
But the Argentine’s situation at City is further complicated by the fact that there has been no official announcement of the contract extension he is thought to have signed back in January.