Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is close to hitting top form.
Argentina international Aguero has suffered a familiar tale of injury woe this season due to hamstring and foot problems – the former sustained on international duty after scoring five times in City’s 6-1 October win over Newcastle United.
Aguero headed a dramatic late winner against Watford at the start of the month and netted a superb solo effort in the 3-0 FA Cup triumph over Norwich City, although these have marked fleeting demonstrations of the 27-year-old’s brilliance.
But Pellegrini is confident his star forward is on the right track despite a frustrating midweek shutout against Everton.
Ahead of Saturday’s match at the Etihad Stadium with Crystal Palace, a team Aguero has never scored against, the City manager told a news conference: “I think that he is very near. He’s making all the movements that he normally does in his normal performance.
“I think that he’s feeling that his body is okay. So I think he will continue playing the way he did the last two games.”
Aguero has 11 goals in 20 appearances this season and Pellegrini felt he would have been celebrating three in four for 2016 but for a superb display from Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard in Wednesday’s match.
“Maybe he didn’t score because Howard made two very important saves,” he added.
“But he had a lot of good movements and two good clear chances to do it.”
Ex-Atletico Madrid favourite Aguero is reportedly a target for Real Madrid as both of Spain’s capital giants plan their transfer moves in the aftermath of being hit with FIFA player registration sanctions.
Pellegrini refused to discuss the speculation directly, but insisted Aguero can scale the same heights at City as he might with the 10-time European champions.
“I think this is a club that wants to be at the same level [as Real],” he added. “I think that we are improving every year in achievements, in the way the club is growing, in every department.
“Real Madrid has a long and important history, of being a big club for so many years, but I’m sure that this club is doing it in the correct way.”