Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City a reminder of what they will be missing as the Argentine’s thunderous second-half strike against Crystal Palace put his team in touching distance of the Premier League title.
Aguero rattled home a rocket of a half-volley to break the deadlock in the 57th minute at Selhurst Park, before a strike from Ferran Torres just two minutes later meant City left London with a 13-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League standings.
With four games to go, Pep Guardiola’s men will be assured of a third title in four seasons if their crosstown rivals are beaten by Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Aguero, 32, is closing in on a fifth Premier League crown in his 10 years at the club, which he will leave as all-time top scorer when his contract expires this summer.
Saturday’s strike was only Aguero’s second of an injury- and illness-hit current Premier League campaign, as Guardiola and his team have begun to adapt to life after the Argentine.
Aguero’s departure from the Etihad was confirmed in an emotional set of social media posts at the end of March, along with the news that – just as with fellow City stalwarts Vincent Kompany and David Silva – he would be honored with his own statue outside the club’s home stadium.
Speaking after his stunning goal on Saturday, Aguero expressed gratitude for the gesture but said he had initially told City chiefs that he didn’t want any fuss.
“The club, when they told me, I told them I don’t want nothing,” Aguero said modestly.
“Honestly, I prefer to wait until the end because I said three or four years ago, I’ll let them decide inside. I’ll play until the end, it’s my job.
“If the club want to do something, then thank you.”
Saturday’s attritional win over Palace capped a remarkable week for City in which they seized control of their Champions League semi-final tie with Paris Saint-Germain by coming from behind to defeat the French champions 2-1 in Paris.
Aguero did not feature in that game but insisted he would be ready for the return leg in Manchester on Tuesday night, should he be called upon.
“Always I’m ready. I’m feeling good, my knee is so good. I just wait for the opportunity to play, like today,” Aguero said, the BBC reported.
“If I don’t play it doesn’t matter. I want to be with the teammates. Of course every player wants to play, but we’ll see.”
City manager Guardiola was full of praise for man-of-the-match Aguero on Saturday, saying: “What a goal, what an action, what a man. I am in love as a person.”
Fans, meanwhile, said they had “tears in their eyes” after the realization hit home that it could be among the last times they see Aguero in a City shirt.
Sergio Aguero scores for Manchester City. Tears in my eyes
— Ryan (@bernardooooV3) May 1, 2021
Aguero’s strike against Palace was his 258th in 386 appearances for City.
The Argentine poacher has been linked with potential moves to a host of European giants this summer, including Barcelona and PSG, as well as a possible switch to City’s Premier League rivals Chelsea.