Pep Guardiola delivered his most glowing tribute to Sergio Aguero yet by describing Sunday’s hat-trick hero as ‘one of the best in the world’.
The Manchester City manager believes the 30-year-old’s performances are showing no sign of slowing, with surgery on a knee injury at the end of last season potentially elongating his career.
Aguero travelled to Barcelona for an operation in April to correct thudding pain felt in his knee for the past four years. Guardiola revealed that he returned to City a new man and looks sharper than ever before.
‘He came back perfect. Since he came back, I saw it from the first second: “wow!”’ Guardiola said. ‘The people at the top of the CFG [City Football Group] and Dr [Ramon] Cugat helped us a lot.
‘Sergio feels free now after suffering with some problems in the past few years. What can I say? Chapeau. He’s been perfect at the Community Shield, Arsenal and today.’
Aguero’s dead-eyed precision saw the Argentina international record a ninth Premier League hat-trick. It is three in this calendar year alone and Aguero is now only four goals shy of becoming the ninth player to reach 150 career Premier League goals.
He will become only the second foreigner to surpass that number — Thierry Henry finished with 175 — and has the best goals-to-game ratio of any of those eight.
Aguero did miss chances against Huddersfield, although he was not as guilty as his partner Gabriel Jesus. City had a genuine chance of going a few better than the 10-1 rout of the Terriers 31 years ago.
The trio of hat-trick scorers in 1987 — Paul Stewart, Tony Adcock and David White — were all at the Etihad on Sunday and must have feared their record win was vanishing.
‘More clinical? No, it’s OK! Three goals a game is OK,’ Guardiola laughed. ‘I’m not going to demand him to be any more clinical than that. It’s not just scoring goals.
‘It’s the spaces he creates, the chances, moves, assists, how often he’s fouled. He never stops and when that happens Sergio is one of the best, best, best strikers in the world.’
Aguero took the matchball but David Silva was at his splendid best. Silva’s eight-month-old son Mateo — born prematurely in December — was a mascot for the day and ventured into Guardiola’s dressing room.
Mateo spent the first five months of his life in hospital, with Silva flying back and forth to Valencia on compassionate leave sanctioned by his manager. Silva’s family were all in his private box as he returned for the first time this season.
‘He made an outstanding performance,’ Guardiola said. ‘He was so motivated because his family, parents, wife, especially Mateo were all here.
He scored an amazing goal for him. He will never forget the first time he saw his father play football. It was a big moment for us because last season was a tough moment for his family.’
Guardiola also took a dig back at Jose Mourinho, who claimed City ‘lacked class’ after parts of the recently-released Amazon Prime documentary on City poked fun at Manchester United’s tactics.
Mourinho was also criticised in a segment detailing Kevin De Bruyne’s time at Chelsea.
‘That is true, you cannot buy class. I agree with Jose,’ Guardiola said. ‘We did it for ourselves. I don’t agree with Jose it is disrespectful. As a club we try to grow and win titles, we did it for ourselves and our fans to see what happens in the locker room.’