Ah, Sergio Agüero. The one — the actual, real one — that got away. Before joining Atlético Madrid in 2006, an 18-year old Kun was offered to Rafa Benitez' Liverpool for, what can in posterity only be described as a reasonable, €23m. The Reds — spearheaded at the time by Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt — made their second Champions' League final in three years that season, and would go on to sign Fernando Torres for a then-record £22m a year later, but there can be little doubt that the diminutive Argentinian would've been well worth the investment, despite his young age.
After tearing it up in La Liga for five seasons, Agüero eventually moved to the Premier League, where he has been the league's most effective striker in the time since. A goal every 107 minutes over a five year span is a sensational return for Manchester City on their €36m investment, and leaning on the Argentinian's production, the Citizens have won the league twice in that time frame.
The main, and perhaps only, weakness Agüero possesses is his susceptibility to injuries. Since moving to Manchester, Diego Maradona's son-in-law has only averaged 2600 minutes per year — or roughly three-fourths of available minutes — twice missing half the season due to injury. He has been absent this year as well, only this time on disciplinary grounds, receiving suspensions on two separate occasions despite the season having only lasted four months. Having missed four matches for planting his studs on David Luiz' rear, he returns to action against the Reds on New Year's Eve, without Jürgen Klopp thinking too much of it.
"I hope Pep gave him the opportunity to have three-and-a-half weeks off - somewhere with good weather, Argentina is good in the moment I think!" joked the Reds manager.
"He is back and a good striker, obviously," he continued. "We played them already and he was involved and I always thought that he is quite a talented boy. I never made a secret of it, and now he is back in the team with a lot of other really good players, that makes life not easier for us.
"But we knew it before and even when he is not playing they are an outstanding team. That's not something we think about too much, it's only really one thing of a lot of things.
"How it always is, he can only score goals if somebody gives him the ball. We have to avoid the easy passes, I would say. Probably we cannot avoid each pass in his area, but the easy ones we should avoid and we are able to defend really well."
So. Manchester City have lots of good player and Liverpool should look to stop easy passes into Agüero's area. Sounds simple enough. Now all that remains to see is whether a Matip-less backline has the composure to carry out those instructions with the required discipline. Jonathan Walters' darting run to the near post demands apprehension.