Sergio Agüero's 45-million euro move to the sky-blue half of Manchester was completed Thursday, City confirmed on their club website. Agüero, who flew directly to England from Argentina after participating in the Copa America, arrived in Manchester on Wednesday and underwent a medical.He was subsequently handed the number 16 shirt at his new club.
With the acquisition officially rubber-stamped, City has broken its own transfer record of 42 million euros, spent in the summer of 2008 on Robinho, then of Real Madrid. The fee Atlético will receive will make Agüero the 12th most expensive footballer in history, slightly pricier than Ronaldo's move from Inter to Real and just pocket change cheaper than Christian Vieri when the Italian switched from Lazio to the Nerazzurri. City, though, does not lack funds. The club is bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour Al Nahyan, a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Since his takeover in 2008, Sheikh Mansour has poured some 750 million euros into Manchester City - 400 million euros in signings alone.
However, Agüero represents a significantly lower financial risk than some of City's acquisitions; Robinho, notably, and to a lesser extent - and outlay - Emmanuel Adebayor and itchy-footed club captain Carlos Tévez. Agüero has been an object of desire for many of Europe's richest clubs for three or four years but his dedication to the Atlético cause had never been called into question. Industrious and outrageously talented on the field, while shy and grounded off it, the Agüero roadshow will be problematic to ignore: Diego Maradona tends to attract attention.
But Agüero only shares his father-in-law's attributes on the pitch. Over his five seasons at Atlético, he was the fifth most prolific goalscorer in the league, behind Leo Messi, David Villa, Diego Forlán and Frédéric Kanouté. More than an out-and-out goalscorer, the Argentina forward's destructive running makes him as feared among defenders as his celebrated international teammate, Messi.
Furthermore, City certainly has a grateful employee on their books for the season ahead, a welcome balm after the friction caused in differing degrees by the strikers available to Roberto Mancini: Tévez, the agitator; Adebayor, the unwanted; Craig Bellamy, the forgotten man, and the deliciously unhinged Mario Balotelli.
Agüero has barely been able to hide his relief at being in Manchester after Juventus failed to match Atlético's valuation earlier in the summer. "I don't like hot weather, so I'll be OK on that side of things," he joked in an interview with the club website. The forward signed a new contract in January, in which his buy-out clause was reduced to 45 million euros. Real Madrid was Agüero's preferred destination but Atlético's city rival received a robust rebuttal upon inquiry. An unsolicited bid would have proved costly for Real by triggering an additional payment to the tax office.
Barcelona does not need another forward; Valencia cannot afford one. Chelsea's long-standing interest evaporated with the arrival of Agüero's erstwhile teammate Fernando Torres; Manchester United and the Milan clubs did not express an interest and Liverpool spent its Torres windfall on Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez. Had City not appeared on the horizon, Agüero might have been forced into a contrite volte-face and a probable fan backlash: When Torres left, his tears seemed genuine enough; the Spain forward was born in Fuenlabrada, Atlético territory in the south of the capital, to a rojiblanco-supporting family. David de Gea, departed to Manchester United, left in more businesslike fashion but at least held a farewell press conference. Agüero elected to announce on his personal website that he would not be returning to Madrid.
Atlético has now lost two strikers in 24 hours after Diego Costa suffered a right knee injury that will keep him out of action for at least six months. With 40 million euros available, however, a replacement should not be hard to produce. Meanwhile, the club has just two fit senior strikers, Adrián and Diego Forlán, who refused a holiday in order to play in Thursday's Europa League qualifier against Stromsgodset.