Sergio Aguero: Qatar 2022 Memories & Domestic Matters

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It’s been a month since Argentina lifted the World Cup and club football is back in full swing, so we caught up with our Global Football Ambassador about his reflections on Qatar and his view on domestic matters as the leagues across Europe reach the half way mark

It’s a month on now from Argentina becoming world champions - now it has settled down a bit, what has it meant to you?

It's meant the world to me. We had been fighting for it for many years.

2014 was close, but this time it came to be.

That sparked a lot of joy – still does. I think it's a reward for those who keep trying, to perseverance... after all, I've always said that fighting until the very end pays off.

Especially if you consider this group – it had many moving parts throughout the years, but it was built upon strong bonds and commitment towards our shared goal.

The team was always first, so there was no room for egoism.

I think that showed in the end. Argentina had the best squad, without a doubt, and the best player of the world at the helm.

What more could we ask?

You were heavily involved in the celebrations on the pitch and in the stadium, how special was it that the squad saw you as one of their own?

As special as it can be.

Sadly, my heart condition forced my early retirement, so I couldn't find a place among the 26.

I did feel part of it, and my team-mates made sure I did so too.

Despite not being on the field, I was able to be there for them the way I could – make the locker room climate as positive as possible and give my contribution.

Being there but not being there at the same time – it was different, but I enjoyed the experience.

Many people could tell that when we streamed with Leo during the World Cup. I had been feeling this way for some time.

They even asked me to stay in their residence! I chose to go there sometimes, share the days between the matches, make it fun for everybody.

The climate there was excellent, as usual.

We had come together to win the 2021 Copa America in Brazil – practically everyone in the team that won the World Cup.

This time, it was almost like a fan, almost from within.

The feelings that we shared were that same love for our colours, a spirit of solidarity for our team, and a will to play great football.

I can't forget about the backroom staff either. They were key to this process – they ensured La Scaloneta had a place in history.

Celebrating the title with all of them, on the field, was the cherry on top.

Carrying Leo with the trophy in his hands, presenting it to thousands of fans who travelled to Qatar – that was incredible.

Unforgettable. On top of it all, it took place one year after my retirement, so it makes it more valuable to me.

It'll stay with me forever, it'll always make me proud.

Now we have to ask, what on earth was going on with Salt Bae? Were the Argentina players wondering who on earth he was as he tried to get in on the celebrations? What were you guys saying about him on the pitch and in the dressing room?

I saw the comments on social media several days later.

I didn't even realise then. Not even a few hours later.

We were celebrating for something many years in the making for us – we were far too deep into it to notice.

Are we about to see an influx of Argentine talent to the Premier League? Who do you think can come to England and make a mark?

The Premier League had many first-class Argentine players already.

Before the world cup, Julian Alvarez potential had been a topic of discussion, and Qatar made it clear.

But there was also Dibu Martinez, McAllister, Cuti Romero, Licha Martinez – with great performances in today's Premier League.

The thing is, the World Cup can be a great display window.

You can really tell who are the players that make a difference, and there's obviously a boost to the champions too.

Maybe we'll see Enzo Fernandez in the Premier League soon. The World Cup's best young player award is nothing to scoff at. There are many other players from Argentina that will show their worth soon.

Brighton signing Buonanotte, Maximo Perrone arriving to my dear Manchester City...

There's a new generation that is adding a lot to the Premier League and in numbers not seen before.

It’s back to the routine of the club season now, and in England we have seen your old club Manchester City stumble. They don’t seem to be clicking right now - why is that?

I wouldn't go that far.

The Premier League is the most competitive league there is, and it's perfectly normal to see the top contenders get reinforcements and go back to their historical standards.

It wouldn't be long for Arsenal or United to get back into the fold.

The two of them suffered the aftermath of two very successful cycles – Wenger's and Ferguson's –, and now they've returned in force.

City has won 4 out of the 5 last Premier Leagues. They're still in the fight, and that needs to be recognised.

Prowling from the second position, ready to strike – anything can happen.

Is it unthinkable that a team can have a player in Erling Haaland who scores so many goals and not win the league?

We'll have to see that yet. There's plenty the season to go still.

Haaland, who has been racking metrics that will break historical records, will play a major part of it.

In any case, excepting Leo, there's no one player who can win a League on their own. It's about the team, and City's got a very talented roster and an exceptional staff.

They've given plenty evidence of their great stature, and you know they'll fight until the very end.

When you look at the way the sides are playing, is there anyone who is actually a better team, playing better football, than Arsenal right now in the Premier League?

I've said it when the season kicked off – Arsenal were looking focused, had a clear playing style, and lots of hunger for glory.

We can't forget they haven't won the League for some years now.

This version of the team has shown these qualities for many months already.

There's commitment to the way they play the game – matches that would have been an L before are matches that they now battle for tooth and nail.

There's more to come to the Premier League, of course, but they'll stay as a candidate for the title for what's left of it.

You worked closely with Mikel Arteta, and the comparisons to Pep Guardiola are obvious, but what was he like to work with and what are the key differences between the two managers?

Arteta's work for Arsenal is praiseworthy.

When he started on the job, with practiced impatience, he had his share of detractors, but he's proven he's smart, hard-working, and a good leader for the group.

That's how he got there – backroom staff needs time and freedom to mature, it makes teams better.

My experience with him was quite positive. He grows close to players, but he knows his place too.

A player respects that. Arteta knows how to teach and how to motivate, and that rounds out his talents.

At the time of writing the questions, Arsenal hold a five point advantage over City. How daunting is the task of having to close that kind of gap for City? Surely it brings a pressure that affects the freedom to go out and play without inhibition?

Over the last few years, City have known how to keep on the pulse of the Premier League.

We can't forget how our races with Liverpool over the last few years were decided by a razor-thin margin.

City's experience on this will play a big part.

As the leader, you can't shake off the feeling that there's a rival hot on your track, catching up to you.

Arsenal's team is younger and will have to deal with that pressure.

They are solid today, they are decided, but we'll have to watch until the final stretch.

A good example is what happened to City in 2012, eight points below United, and we managed to lift up the trophy in the last leg.

Who do you think will come out on top in the Premier League title race?

As things stand, it's going to either Arsenal, City or United.

Newcastle can't be discounted either, they played a great first half of the tournament.

Liverpool and Chelsea are ten points away from the top four, and opposition teams no longer look scared when they face them. Have they lost their aura, and how hard will it be to get that back?

Let me give some context to my answer...

Due to injuries, both teams have had substantial losses in their rosters.

I think it was close to 10 players for Chelsea, and key ones at that.

Having two or three players out – that's one thing, you can bring some folks in and the team won't feel their absence that much.

But that many players make it difficult to maintain the same level of play.

That being said, their players will recover, and I'm certain they'll find their game once more.

It's true that they've lost precious time, but those kinds of teams are sure to recover their place in the limelight.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the Cup recently - what kind of message does that send out to their rivals about the remainder of LaLiga season?

Just as I mentioned Arsenal's and United's return, Barcelona has come back to Spain.

Teams have to get back into groove after losing pivotal players like Messi, Iniesta and many others.

Xavi is leading today's project, and, with some more work, they'll start to see the results.

I stand by my comment – the process needs time. Barca is back, and that's great for the club, for the fans, and for La Liga too.

Gavi has received a lot of plaudits after that game, what are your thoughts on him and do you think he will hit the heights of the famous Barca midfielders of recent times in Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas?

Those are all La Masia alumni, former members of Barcelona's youth squads.

You don't usually see that in international football. They all made their mark too.

I think Xavi wants to return to those roots. We see very young players like Gavi, Pedri, Ansu, Balde, just to name a few.

You can tell they've got big things ahead.

You need to give them space to grow, guide them, and, shortly, they'll surely bring a great deal of happiness to Barca.

The race for the top four in La Liga looks like it’s going to be an epic battle this year. Who do you think will be joining Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League places?

Real Sociedad looks good.

They've always been a tough team – with the addition of David Silva, they've got a real plus to their game.

The other two in mind are Manuel Pellegrini's Betis and Cholo Simeone's Atleti.

Those five teams will be the challengers, in my opinion.

Enzo Fernandes saw a move to Chelsea collapse earlier this month. Can you really see him staying at Benfica past the summer - and should he be playing at one of the top clubs in world football? If so, is Spain a better option for his game than England?

Enzo has proven he can play in the top leagues of the world.

The winter market transfer didn't pan out, true.

But from my understanding, it'll be a short time until he arrives either to the Premier League or La Liga.

We'll have to wait for summer to tell. But it's a safe bet to say he'll be the target of the biggest clubs out there.

West Ham are struggling, but Manuel Lanzini is not getting game time. You know him well, are West Ham making a mistake by not using him - and does he need to leave?

It's tough for them right now.

That being said, they have plenty of options.

Perhaps a streak of good results can get them out of their rut and dispel the potential for relegation.

I think Manuel is one of the players who can help them pull that off.

The transfer window remains open for a while longer, how much movement do you think we’ll see across Europe in the coming week or two? Are there any clubs or players in particular you have your eye on?

The major clubs have made their moves already, and there's not much time left.

Maybe there's a last minute surprise, it's impossible to tell.

The market did have a lot of movement and teams had really important additions.

Mudryk going to Chelsea comes to mind. It really lifted up their spirits and it looks like a big win for their team.