Sergio Aguero believes adapting to Pep Guardiola’s exacting methods at Manchester City have improved him as a player.
Aguero has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season for City, who are close to adding the Premier League title to their EFL Cup success – a triumph where a goal from the Argentina striker set in motion a 3-0 win at Wembley over Arsenal in February.
Speculation surrounding the 29-year-old’s relationship with Guardiola has been rife since the former Barcelona boss gave only qualified praise to his star forward’s goal-laden performances at the start of last season.
Guardiola insisted he wanted a greater all-round contribution from Aguero, while the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and City’s pursuit of Alexis Sanchez were viewed as ominous signs for a man who became the club’s all-time record goalscorer last October.
Reports in December suggested Aguero was unhappy with his treatment from Guardiola but he soon hit a purple patch of form that was only derailed by a knee injury last month.
“I think being able to adapt to Pep’s playing style has a large contributing factor in my form this season,” Aguero told City’s official website ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, where the hosts face the tall order of pulling around a 3-0 first-leg deficit.
“I’m driven to keep on learning, and I have always been able to absorb the lessons of other coaches and put them to practice.
“Pep is very demanding, but I simply had to adapt my game and mindset and change how I play to his style.
“That means helping recover the ball, press, pass it around more, search for my team-mates and remain open for passes to find the goal.
“It’s a continuous learning process, and I value that kind of thing as it helps me improve as a player.”
Aguero returned to action as a substitute during Saturday’s 3-2 derby defeat to Manchester United, which prevented City from sealing the Premier League title with six games to spare, and will need his famed goalscoring instincts to be razor sharp against Liverpool if a remarkable turnaround is to take place.
“This has been a very intense season and the final stretch will likely be demanding as well,” he added.
“We’re prepared, and the whole staff is doing a great job to face what’s up ahead. I have a great deal of trust in the team, and the Champions League remains one of our objectives. There is everything to play for.”