On a night when he didn’t touch a single blade of grass on the Etihad pitch, it is odd that the only player on my mind during last night’s quarter-final fixture was Sergio Agüero. Since the news broke of his forthcoming summer departure, it has been impossible to ignore the air of finality surrounding every game that has followed. Yesterday was his last quarter-final at the Etihad; the reverse fixture next week will be his last quarter-final at an away venue. With every appearance, Agüero’s time with Manchester City ticks away, and the urgency to chase down that elusive trophy is almost heightened by the fact that one of these games will be his last with the team.
I find myself thinking back to those enigmatic European nights with him in tow: his magical hat-trick against Bayern in 2014; breathing hope into our campaign and breaking City’s all-time top-scoring record with his 178th against Napoli back in 2017. Even on nights that ended in heartbreak, such as the defeat against Spurs a few years ago, Agüero was still on the tip of everyone’s tongue as they pondered whether his missed penalty in the first leg was the moment that could have turned the tide.
In recent times, Agüero has become an essential figure in any Champion’s League campaign; the sight of his figure blitzing from end to end of the pitch is a comforting and welcome one. So, knowing that we are approaching a time when he just won’t be there is odd. Like Wednesday night: though the team put together a successful (albeit slightly shaky) performance, I couldn’t help but notice his burning absence. I was left wondering whether he would have finished those chances others had missed, or if his clinical dominance would have helped the team towards a more assertive performance.
In all of this, one thing is very clear: Sergio Agüero is irreplaceable. As he goes, it gives a new wave of talent such as Ferran Torres, Phil Foden and even Gabriel Jesus the chance to carve their own names into City folklore. They can never be Agüero, but they could be the next great goal-scorer. The bright blue sky is the limit.