Pep Guardiola has no desire for Sergio Aguero to replicate the qualities of Luis Suarez as the two free-scoring strikers prepare to line up in Manchester City’s Champions League Group C clash with Barcelona.
Suarez scored a phenomenal 59 goals in 53 appearances as Barca claimed Spain’s domestic double and the FIFA Club World Cup last season and is already on to 10 in 14 games this term.
Those numbers are outstripped by Aguero, whose brace in City’s 4-0 win at West Brom on Saturday took him to 13 in 13.
Camp Nou was deprived of a showdown between these two supreme goal-getters when Guardiola surprisingly left Aguero on the bench before 10-man City slumped to a 4-0 loss at his old stomping grounds two weeks ago.
The former Barca and Bayern Munich boss’ calls for Aguero to improve his all-round game were noticeably softened at the weekend, with Guardiola insisting the 28-year-old Argentina international is “at that level” when his penalty box prowess is set against the likes of Suarez and Messi.
Nevertheless, the City manager maintains Aguero can be spoken of alongside the world’s best on his own terms.
Asked at a pre-match news conference whether he wanted Aguero to play more like Suarez for the Premier League leaders, Guardiola said: “The quality from Luis Suarez is his qualities. I don’t want those qualities – Aguero has his own qualities.
“I want to help Aguero to achieve his huge qualities as much as possible. That’s what it is.
“He has some qualities and I cannot ask Sergio to do what Luis Suarez does because it would be unfair.
“I know the qualities the player has to develop, mostly his mentality. That is what I want.”
Nolito (after considerable headphones woe): “Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world.” #MCFC pic.twitter.com/yzZvxgLQOR
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) October 31, 2016
Spain forward Nolito could be in line to face his former club alongside Aguero as City seek to improve on four points from three matches in the group stage.
“Well, I think he’s one of the best strikers in the world,” Nolito said of his team-mate. “And it’s a pride to have him in the team.
“We hope that tomorrow he can have one of those days when he scores many goals and hopefully we can win the match.”
City are not so well stocked at full-back, with defensive midfielder Fernando or teenager Pablo Maffeo in line to feature at right-back if Guardiola opts to use a back four, with Bacary Sagna (hamstring) and Pablo Zabaleta (foot) set to miss out once more.
Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba will not feature in Manchester as Barca nurse injury problems of their own, but Guardiola sees this to be of little advantage to his current employers.
“I think we have to think that we’ve not go right-backs,” he added. “We have one that has recently played there and one that is 19. We all have problems.
“We all have players out. They have some important players out but 4-0 is 4-0. We have to learn from that. When you lose in that way the only thing you can do is learn.”