Belfast Telegraph

Messi still Guardiola’s number one despite Aguero exploits

Guardiola managed Messi at Barcelona before linking up with Aguero at Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola still believes Lionel Messi (left) is better than Sergio Aguero (right) (Nick Potts/PA)
Pep Guardiola still believes Lionel Messi (left) is better than Sergio Aguero (right) (Nick Potts/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hailed Sergio Aguero as one of the world’s best strikers but insists Lionel Messi remains top of the pile for him.

Aguero’s hat-trick in City’s 6-1 romp at Aston Villa made him the Premier League’s record overseas scorer with 177 goals.

Riyad Mahrez’s first-half brace and Gabriel Jesus’ goal made light work of Villa, who crumbled to their sixth defeat in eight top-flight games on Sunday.

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Pep Guardiola coached Lionel Messi at Barcelona (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola managed Messi at Barcelona and believes he still sets the standard to which others aspire.

He said: “Sergio is one of the best, no doubt. The best is Messi, but the rest? Sergio is absolutely one of them.

“All the players in the locker room congratulated him. To break this record of an incredible legend like Thierry Henry, it means it’s not just for a short period, it’s many years.

“To be the foreign player with the most goals and hat-tricks speaks for itself.

“It’s an honour to be here the day he achieved that, hopefully he can score more. He will die scoring goals.

“There are players through the incredible history of English football and he is one of them, he helps to make the Premier League and English football better.”

Anwar El Ghazi’s injury-time penalty did earn Villa a consolation and boss Dean Smith urged his side to move on from the mauling – the club’s heaviest home defeat in almost four years.

He said: “We’ll debrief the game, we’ll learn from it and move forward. We were poor against Watford but learned from it and put in a good performance against Burnley.

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Manchester City ran riot at Villa Park (Nick Potts/PA)

“What we can learn from is the way they pass and move, the way they work as a team and press. It’s something for myself and the players to aspire to.

“We made mistakes and got punished by a better team.”

Smith also defended his decision to hand Danny Drinkwater his debut after his loan move from Chelsea last week.

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Danny Drinkwater (left) struggled on his Aston Villa debut (Nick Potts/PA)

The midfielder made just his second league start since March 2018 following his struggles at Stamford Bridge and on loan at Burnley.

Smith said: “Danny will make us a better team. He started the game well but made a mistake for their second goal, although there was a mistake before in trying to run the ball out.

“Danny needed it, he got 75 minutes of match time. We have injuries as everyone knows, he has come in and looked good in training. He wasn’t the reason we got beaten 6-1.”

PA

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