Pablo Zabaleta believes Sergio Aguero will fight for his Manchester City place and claims the club can only benefit from “healthy competition” in their attack.
Uncertainty surrounds the future of the Argentine striker after he was benched for the second successive Premier League game with boss Pep Guardiola starting with teenager Gabriel Jesus instead.
After Jesus scored twice in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Swansea, Aguero admitted the club will determine whether he stays in the summer with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain linked.
But Zabaleta, who has been friends and team-mates with the frontman since representing their country at Under-20 level, recalled how Aguero had a similar challenge when he joined in 2011 and Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko were on City’s books.
And the full-back said: “He’s fine. You saw when he came on against Swansea, he played really well. At the end of the day, football is like this – especially with the big squads, where you have more than one big player in each position.”
“Sergio has been playing for most of the years as first choice and now we have Gabriel Jesus, who played the last two games and did really well. I think it’s good to have two players with that quality. I think it’s always good to have healthy competition in the team.”
“You know you have to perform well to keep your place in the team and that’s normal for the big squads.”
“Yeah he’ll be OK. He’s a mature guy. Listen, years ago it was Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko, Kun. It’s not the first time he’s been dropped. We need a strong squad to win titles.”
Guardiola insists Aguero can play with Jesus, and Zabaleta agrees as he added: “Yeah, of course. If the manager decides to try to play them both together, they could do that. But we play in a 4-3-3 with one central striker, two wingers wide. That’s why probably at the moment one of them needs to play up front on his own.”
With more options and greater confidence, City have also found their form with three successive wins. They remain 10 points behind leaders Chelsea in the title race, but Zabaleta says they won’t give up, just like when they came back to become champions in 2012 and 2014.
He added: “That gap with Chelsea is really big and we cannot drop points if we want to catch them. Now we are third, that Champions League spot for next year is going to be tough as well.”
“So we need to keep winning games, that’s the reality, then see if Chelsea can drop points. We had the situation before when we won the first title, we were eight points behind United. Of course we need that belief.”
Ahead of Saturday’s win over Arsenal, Chelsea announced that the two sides would be meeting outside of London later this year, in China.
The fixture at the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, will take place on July 22, and will be the first time Chelsea and Arsenal have ever played each other outside of the British Isles.
For Chelsea, the summer trip marks a return to mainland China for the first time since the Olympic summer of 2008, although they have had a preseason game in Hong Kong in the interim.
With Chelsea looking to connect with their Chinese fans, what better way to do so than to show off their proficiency in a local language?
Players including Nemanja Matic, Willian, and Gary Cahill announced the Beijing fixture against Arsenal in a video in which each spoke a line in Mandarin, which will surely delight fans in China.
Cahill even manages to pull off the famous club chant, saying “Keep the blue flag flying high” in flawless Mandarin.
From the best trainers to the sorest losers, Jesse Lingard has revealed secrets from the Manchester United training ground in a video with FourFourTwo.
The young winger was asked to pick his five-a-side team from his teammates, and the 24-year-old also gave some distressing news about United’s world-record signing, Paul Pogba. Apparently the Frenchman’s sense of timekeeping is…not the best.
That being said, Lingard sang the praises of the Frenchman and many other teammates as he went on to discuss who takes the best penalties, who is the nutmeg king on the training ground, and who shows up to training the earliest.
Lingard also had a surprise initial answer when asked who was the fastest player on the training ground. Find out who, and much more, by watching the video above!
Did any of Lingard’s answers surprise you?