Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero are like an old married couple, but can their chemistry translate on to the pitch? Barcelona will be desperately hoping they can make it work in LaLiga better than they did with Argentina
- Striker Sergio Aguero is heading to Barcelona after leaving Manchester City
- He is great mates with Lionel Messi and they have played together for Argentina
- Questions have been raised over whether they work well together on the pitch
- Barcelona will be hoping Aguero can complement Messi like Luis Suarez did
Team-mates at last. Sergio Aguero’s move to Barcelona finally unites him with Lionel Messi seven years after the first attempt to bring them together at the same club.
There is no doubting the strength of their friendship off the field. Aguero has described it as like that of an old married couple. The two have shared a room together at tournaments since the Under-20 World Cup in 2005. ‘He hates to be late for anything,’ Aguero told America TV in an interview last year.
And in an interview with TyC Sports he has also described how when the two have to be ready for a team meal at nine o’clock Messi despairs at Aguero’s laid-back timekeeping.
‘He’s a real moaner,’ he said. ‘Sometimes we would train in the afternoon and get to the team hotel at 7.30pm. Leo would have a quick wash while I’m still in my underpants messing about with my phone. That’s when he would start to get impatient reminding me: “We have to be there by nine eh!”‘
Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero will play together at club level for the first time in their careers
They have been pals since 2005 when rooming together at the U20 World Cup with Argentina – here they celebrate winning Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008
The two players, who won Olympic gold and played a World Cup final together, have a bond that ought to make it work for them in LaLiga, and they won’t have to share a room at Barcelona so Aguero falling asleep with the television on won’t be a problem.
But the question many Barcelona supporters will be asking is: will the duo be as dynamic on the pitch now as they might have been earlier in their career? They haven’t always clicked for their country, so will it work at the same club?
Barcelona tried to sign Aguero in 2014 and had to change course and go for Luis Suarez instead when it was made clear to them that the Argentine would be staying at Manchester City.
Aguero is surplus to requirements at City but Barca will be desperate for him to shine in LaLiga
Despite their bond, questions remain over how well they complement each other on the pitch
Aguero has described their amusing relationship as that of an ‘old married couple’
Missing out on someone whose arrival would not just bring goals but make Messi very happy was seen as a setback but there were some questions raised at that very tournament about how compatible the two were on the pitch.
Gonzalo Higuain was seen as a better foil for Messi than Aguero and when Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella was forced by injury to play Ezequiel Lavezzi instead of Aguero the team seemed better balanced.
In the final, Lavezzi had stretched Germany in the first half and when Aguero replaced him Germany looked more comfortable. It was Pep Guardiola who first recognised the secret of getting the best out of Messi by having him flanked by quick forwards who would open up space around him.
When Aguero and Messi won Olympic gold together in 2008 Aguero played centre-forward in a 4-2-3-1 ahead of a line of three, in which Messi started on the right of Juan Riquelme and Angel Di Maria.
Ronald Koeman will be hoping that Aguero provides an impact similar to that of Luis Suarez
At the 2014 World Cup final, Messi and Aguero’s belongings can be seen beside each other
But by 2009 Messi was playing as a false nine under Guardiola, with first Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o, and then two years later David Villa and Pedro either side of him.
When Suarez went to Barcelona it was clear he would not play wide as effectively as Henry, Eto’o, Villa and Pedro had. In the end it was Messi who told Suarez to play through the middle and he would move back out to the right where he had started his career.
But the Uruguayan still managed to complement Messi because he bullied defenders, and by occupying both centre-backs he opened up space for him.
Aguero is neither a player who will run the channels nor act as Messi’s buffer. His focus is honed on finding gaps in crowded penalty areas, second-guessing where the ball will arrive, and finishing efficiently.
For all that his appearance in the second half against Germany in the 2014 final didn’t seem to help the cause, Argentina would still have given anything for just one of the clear chances that dropped to them to have fallen to him.
Messi and Lavezzi stand over a free-kick at the 2014 World Cup, with Aguero on the bench
At Barca, Luis Suarez bullied defenders and opened space for his partner in crime Messi
He will bring intelligence and a natural ability to score goals that Barcelona legend Steve Archibald recently told Sportsmail was ‘probably even better than Suarez’. And those who have worked closely with him at City also speak of a player with an exceptional football brain and a desire to work hard that might be compromised by age and injuries but not by a lack of will to succeed.
But the older he gets the more Messi needs the decoy players around him to be either a battering-ram centre-forward or a fleet-footed winger.
Aguero has spoken about his first meeting with Messi in 2005. ‘I didn’t know who he was,’ he said. ‘I knew that there was someone who was really good at Barcelona but I didn’t know it was him.’ Messi warmed to that self-effacing carefree attitude and now he finally has his international team-mate in his club dressing room.
It’s during games where the move’s success or failure will be judged, however. Coming through the youth teams of Argentina they were special. This is a test to see if their chemistry has endured as well on the pitch as off it.
All eyes will be on the partnership, to see if it can elevate Barcelona back to the top of LaLiga
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