Pep Guardiola says Manchester City still “need” Sergio Aguero even though the club’s record scorer has played virtually no part in their drive towards the Premier League summit.
A win over Aston Villa on Wednesday will take City top of the table for the first time since 17 August 2019.
Yet Aguero has not scored a league goal this term.
“We miss him,” manager Guardiola said. “The numbers speak for themselves. He is the best striker in our history.”
He added: “We need Aguero.”
The Argentina forward has played a total of 141 minutes across five appearances this season.
He has figured for 31 minutes since being substituted at half-time in the draw at West Ham on 24 October and has been ruled out of the Villa game (18:00 GMT) as he is still in isolation after a positive coronavirus test.
Yet, despite profiting through a combination of Gabriel Jesus, Kevin de Bruyne, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez operating in the central striker’s role, Guardiola refuses to dismiss the contribution of the legendary 32-year-old, whose contract is due to run out in the summer.
Asked if City were considering bringing in striking reinforcements during the current transfer window, Guardiola said emphatically: “No.”
However, it is evident City have managed without the player who has scored an incredible 256 goals in his nine and a half seasons at the club.
From 22 December, they have scored 20 times in seven games in all competitions, compared to 21 in 13 immediately beforehand. In the Premier League, they have scored 10 in four games, having taken eight games to get to the same figure previously.
Given they have also kept 13 clean sheets in their last 16 games, it is little wonder City have cruised into their present position in addition to reaching the Carabao Cup final.
“Sergio is a player who can create for himself and win a game by himself but he has not been with us for a long time,” Guardiola added.
“When we didn’t have him we could have started complaining but we did completely the opposite.
“We want him back as soon as possible. But at the same time, we have to go forward and we have done that because of the quality and skills that we have.”