Aguero confirms intention to leave Man City in 2019

LONDON • Sergio Aguero's decision to leave when his contract expires in 2019 has surprised Manchester City's executive, as the hierarchy believed the striker was close to agreeing a one-year extension.

The Argentinian, 27, had been in ongoing discussions regarding staying at the club until the summer of 2020 and there was hope that once a final detail was ironed out, he would sign the fresh terms.

On doing so, Aguero's plan was to return to Argentina to rejoin Independiente, where he began his career.

Yet, the striker has now stated that he will leave the Etihad Stadium in the 2019 close season, at the end of the five-year deal he signed two years ago.

"It's clear to me that when my contract ends, after the World Cup (in Russia in 2018), I'm going to Independiente," Aguero told the Argentinian radio station El Rojo En La Uno.

"Here at the club they are great with me, they always told me that they were open if the chance of a transfer arises. But where am I going to go in Europe?

"No, when I go, when my contract ends, I'm going to Argentina. From Manchester, straight to Avellaneda. My family knows that I am going to return when my contract with Manchester City finishes."

However, given Aguero's stellar success at City and their desire to extend his stay, his comments may be a bargaining stance. Therefore, he could yet sign the new deal.

City, though, will be focused on their Premier League trip to Norwich today which offers them the chance to strengthen their hold on a top-four spot.

Manuel Pellegrini's side have been consistently successful against the teams towards the foot of the table this season and maintained that record by beating Aston Villa 4-0 last Saturday, ending a run of three successive league defeats.

The Manchester club are 10 points behind leaders Leicester City with 10 games to play, and their belief they can still overturn that deficit lies in the fact that they have made late runs to win the title in two of the last four seasons.

"It is important not to think about how many games we need to win," said Pellegrini. "It's just important to try and win the next game.

"For every team, whether they have experience of a title run-in or not, there is a lot of pressure in the last part of the season."

What counts against City this time is their inability to beat the better teams in the division.

Of the 50 points Pellegrini's side have gained this season, only nine have come from the 13 matches they have played against sides currently in the top half.

They have tended to beat the teams at the bottom, though, which is why a trip to Norwich is a reason for optimism.

Norwich will kick off in the relegation places having taken just one point from their last nine games.

Manager Alex Neil, though, insists the players' fighting spirit remains strong and has called on the fans to get behind his side as they look for just a second win in 14 Premier League meetings with City.

"I don't think anybody could say about my players that they are not trying or that they are giving up," he told the Eastern Daily Press.

"In the last few games these guys are losing teeth and getting gashed heads and everything, and they keep going and they keep trying.

"Somebody will put a couple of wins together and climb out, and we have to make sure it is us."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Aguero confirms intention to leave Man City in 2019'. Print Edition | Subscribe