Early Doors

Kun I get a witness?

Early Doors

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Sergio Aguero celebrates his opener against Porto

Early Doors rushed home last night, looking forward to watching Manchester City take on Porto in the second leg of their Europa League tie over dinner.

No sooner had it taken its gourmet supper and pierced the film lid several times with a fork than it turned to see Sergio Aguero wheeling away in celebration.

The little Argentine striker had scored after just 19 seconds, setting the tone of an eventual 4-0 thrashing of the defending champions.

Aguero later turned provider for Edin Dzeko as City won 6-1 on aggregate and threw down the gauntlet to their neighbours and fellow unwilling participants in the competition, Manchester United.

The striker nicknamed 'Kun' has been an unbridled success since moving to England. So far he has scored 20 goals in 36 appearances since leaving Atletico Madrid last summer.

He arrived in Manchester a fully-formed superstar in every respect. He earned his reputation as one of the world's most exciting forwards by scoring more than 100 goals during his five years in the Spanish capital.

The £38 million fee which enabled his switch from the Estadio Vicente Calderon to the Etihad Stadium is still unfathomably huge, even by today's standards.

He has that distinctive look which has sponsors falling over each other in an effort to secure brand endorsement and, despite being related to Diego Maradona, has maintained a thoroughly clean-cut image.

ED struggles to remember the last time a foreign player arrived in the Premier League who was a bona fide superstar in the same way as Aguero.

His team-mate David Silva and Chelsea's Juan Mata both arrived as World Cup winners for big fees and have shone on these shores, but their reputations did not precede them in quite the same way.

Yaya Toure is one of the world's best midfielders and won everything there was to win at Barcelona, but does not possess the same star quality as his fellow import from Spain.

Rafael van der Vaart was a cut-price cast-off from Real Madrid (more fool them). Javier Hernandez was a virtual unknown to most when he was signed by United, and even Alex Ferguson admitted his surprise at how well the Mexican did upon his arrival. Fernando Torres was another who, for all his talent, became a true star in the Premier League after making the move from Madrid to the North-West.

Luis Suarez is perhaps the other recent example who fits the bill in terms of outrageous talent, but it was as much his infamy as it was his fame which made his signing for Liverpool a year ago so noteworthy.

For ED's money, you have to go all the way back to when Andriy Shevchenko signed for Chelsea in 2006 to find a player who eclipses Aguero as far as a ready-made star import goes. Aguero needs to score just two more goals for City to match the Ukrainian's total for his three abject years at Stamford Bridge.

City manager Roberto Mancini said after the Porto game that Carlos Tevez could be back playing again very soon after the wayward striker finally got as bored with his feud as everyone else.

Mancini said: "One week after Munich I called him to my house and said, 'Carlos, apologise to everyone and it's finished'. I have no problem. I think he needs two to three weeks to train, then some games."

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Tevez is welcomed home

If Tevez can regain match fitness quickly, then he will surely play some part in City's run-in, with Dzeko and Mario Balotelli only hitting the heights sporadically this season for a variety of reasons, but the former club captain will have a real fight on his hands if he believes he will be able to regain his status as the club's top striker in a hurry.

Mancini may well be cautious about throwing the pair together at such a key part of the season, having seen how Argentina have underachieved with the pair spearheading the attack over the past couple of years.

He has only started them as a duo once this season, although that is as much to do with Tevez's lengthy suspension/strike/exile as anything else.

But these issues are just current affairs. The bigger picture is that the Premier League has within its ranks a player who could well become an all-time great in the competition.

Fans of all clubs should feel glad they get to watch him every week.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We talked with them. Let's see how they themselves continue to lead. Andrey still wants to play in England. (But) For Andrey it is very important to play in the Euros and being at a home club would be a good option in the current situation. Therefore, we are discussing the possibility to loan (Arshavin)." - Zenit St Petersburg general director Maxim Mitrofanov is hopeful of bringing Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin back to his former club on loan before the Russian transfer deadline. There might be a few Gunners fans who would chip in for his flight.

FOREIGN VIEW: "We have beaten maybe the best two teams in the world, it's amazing what happened here, we believed in ourselves. Bayern played well but luck was on our side." — Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer's reaction to the Swiss side's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Basel, you may remember, helped consign Manchester United to Europa League football before Christmas.

COMING UP: It's a Europa League double this evening with live coverage of Valencia v Stoke City (18:00) and Manchester United v Ajax (20:05), while in the Championship it's a big derby game — Derby County v Leicester City (19:45).

Elsewhere in the wide world of sports, it's the first Twenty20 match between Pakistan and England at 16:00.

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