Manager Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is the best striker in the Premier League.
Aguero, 27, scored a hat-trick against Chelsea on Saturday to move to 21 league goals this season, one behind leading scorer Harry Kane of Tottenham.
The Argentine has scored 99 Premier League goals in five seasons at City.
“Sergio makes the difference when he’s playing every game, every week. I am sure he is the best striker in this league,” said Pellegrini.
This is the second consecutive season in which Aguero has struck more than 20 goals, having managed 26 last term.
But despite another prolific season, Aguero has not been included on the shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
“It is very strange that Sergio has played so many years here and has never been the best player in the Premier League,” added the Chilean.
Aguero has helped City to two Premier League titles since he joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
It was his injury-time strike against QPR in 2012 that sealed the club’s first ever Premier League title.
That season was the only year he has been nominated for the Player of the Year award, losing out to Arsenal’s Robin van Persie.
Aguero has never been nominated in the PFA Team of the Year or won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Pellegrini keeps his eyes on two prizes
Aguero’s hat-trick moved the Blues closer to securing a top-four finish – and Champions League qualification – in Pellegrini’s final season at the helm.
Third-placed City are four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United with five games remaining, while leaders Leicester hold a 12-point lead over Pellegrini’s side.
The 62-year-old, who will be replaced by Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola in the summer, is unlikely to leave with a second Premier League title in three seasons – but could still lead the Blues to their first Champions League crown.
However, he is refusing to be sidetracked from the league campaign by their semi-final against his former club Real Madrid later this month.
“The best way to arrive at semi-final is to win your games, winning games in the way we did against Chelsea,” said Pellegrini, who has won 99 games in charge of City.
“It was a complete team performance without the ball and with the ball. We have to keep focus on Premier League.”
‘Yaya criticism not important’
City midfielder Yaya Toure was given his first start in almost a month at Stamford Bridge after struggling to regain his place following injury.
And the 32-year-old Ivorian, whose Blues future is the subject of speculation, was one of the driving forces in their impressive win.
“When Yaya doesn’t play and we win, everyone says he should not play anymore,” said Pellegrini.
“But we have played a lot of important games without him that we lost. Yaya continues to be an important player for our team and a player who makes a difference.”