'A legend of the Premier League, a legend of the club' Jesus pays tribute to record-breaker Sergio Aguero
Striker's hat-trick makes him the most prolific import in Premier League history
Gabriel Jesus used the word three times in a matter of seconds. Once, perhaps, for each goal of Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick in Manchester City’s 6-1 win over Aston Villa, a record 12th treble in the Premier League that made him the most prolific import in the history of the English top flight.
“He is a legend,” said his striking sidekick. “He's a legend of the Premier League, a legend of the club - when he goes to the pitch he scores always.”
Jesus was echoing his manager’s description. Pep Guardiola had described Aguero in similarly glowing terms after he took his tally to 177 goals. For Guardiola, one of the most impressive elements lay in the identity of the man he leapfrogged. “He’s a legend like Thierry Henry,” said the Frenchman’s former Barcelona manager.
“Congratulations to Sergio because it's difficult,” added Jesus, though he outlined the problems that defenders face in trying to halt City’s record scorer. “It's always difficult to score a goal but for defenders as well it's difficult,” he added. “Sometimes you have opportunity and sometimes he is too quick.”
Aguero has allied speed of foot and of thought with an opportunistic streak. Those 177 goals have come from just 401 shots on target; this season he has 13 from 18. Twenty players have had more attempts on target this season but only five have scored more goals. The accuracy of Aguero’s finishing can give goalkeepers less chance.
If, as City’s other main striker, Jesus has an unenviable task - how do you compete with a legend? - he has approached it with humility. He sees Aguero as a role model. He could have had a hat-trick of his own against Villa but was less clinical than Aguero or, he felt, the rested Raheem Sterling.
“He is a great guy and a legend,” the Brazilian added. “I'm in the same position. So I have to learn from him. I think our football is different - he is more of a striker, more of a finisher. We work together, every single day. I can learn from him. So that's what I have to do. I can score maybe two or three [at Villa], but I missed the chance and Sergio scored a hat-trick. If Raheem plays I'm sure he scores.”
Rivals can complement as well as compliment one another. Jesus and Aguero rarely begin games together but when they do the results can be spectacular. They have begun just 11 Premier League matches in harness, but City have scored six times in three of them. City have scored 40 goals in those 11. Aguero has 14 of them, Jesus a further eight. They can be deadly as a duo.
“Today I played as a winger,” Jesus explained. “I can run, I can fight, I have the space. I think before when I play with Sergio, we play as two strikers, today I played as a winger so it's different.”
The other winger City fielded at Villa Park, Riyad Mahrez, struck twice and joined in the chorus of those branding Aguero a legend. So did his former captain.
Vincent Kompany’s favourite of Aguero’s 177 is clear: the 94th-minute, last-day, title-winning strike in 2012, making City champions for the first time in 44 years. It is not just the quality or quantity of his goals that stands out, but their significance.
“What a legend he is,” said the Anderlecht manager. “You take away the fact he has scored that many goals, I’m grateful for one goal. But when he scored against QPR and everyone said ‘Agueroooo’, you take that goal in isolation and he is always going to be a legend to me.”
Updated: January 13, 2020 04:26 PM