Following Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick against Aston Villa on Sunday, he overtook Thierry Henry to become the highest-scoring foreign player in Premier League history. Indeed, with the pair having achieved the goalscoring tally in an almost identical number of games, we had to ask; Henry vs. Aguero, which of them was the better player?
Thierry Henry scored 175 Premier League goals in 258 appearances at a rate of 0.68 per game. Conversely, so far Aguero has netted 177 goals in 255 appearances, scoring 0.69 per game. So Aguero has a very narrow edge there, although the margins are too fine to definitely say one is better than the other.
However, when you dive a little bit deeper into the actual minutes that the pair played, a slight difference emerges. Thierry Henry scored his 175 goals in 21,305 Premier League minutes, meaning a goal every 121 minutes. Aguero, on the other hand, has scored two goals more in over 2000 minutes less. Having played 18,844 minutes, Aguero has a scoring record of a goal every 106 minutes.
Based on that, in round 1 of Henry vs. Aguero I think you have to give Aguero the win.
Although top class strikers will always be judged first and foremost on goalscoring, the ability to assist a team-mate to score is equally valuable.
Whereas the goalscoring was a tight category in the Henry vs. Aguero debate, this one is anything but. Aguero has so far notched 46 assists, Thierry Henry set up a staggering 74 goals. Even accounting for the three extra games that Henry played, it isn’t close.
Indeed, if you add goals and assists together to form a new ‘goal contribution’ category, then the pair can barely be separated, with Aguero contributing to a goal every 85 minutes and Henry doing the same every 86.
Big Game Mentality
Many would agree that the Premier League is harder now than it was during Henry’s years. The continued rise of TV money has allowed the bottom half clubs to rival many overseas heavyweights in terms of spending power.
In the last five years, each of Bournemouth, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester, Newcastle, Sheffield United, Watford, West Ham and Wolves have spent £20m or more on a single player, in some cases more than once.
You can also argue that there is now a ‘big six’ (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal) whereas, back in Henry’s day, it was only a ‘big four’, with City and Spurs not yet in the picture.
However, that wasn’t Henry’s fault and, when arguing about Henry vs. Aguero, the only truly fair way to judge how good they were is to see their records against those big teams.
In 40 league matches against fellow members of the big four, Henry notched 23 goals at a rate of 0.58 per game. Aguero, on the other hand, has scored a very impressive 44 goals in 69 matches, an average of 0.64 per game.
It’s not a huge difference but it is a difference.
During his spell at Arsenal, Henry won the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield twice apiece. Aguero has the more glittering trophy cabinet with four league titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and three Community Shields.
However, is it fair to compare Henry vs. Aguero based on what they’ve won in a team sport? Probably not. Harry Kane is a brilliant player but will never win anything with Spurs. Individual honours are the way to go with this.
Thierry Henry was in the PFA team of the year six times (in a row) and was Premier League player of the season twice. He also won the golden boot award four times in five seasons. Significantly, he was also recognised on a global level and finished in the top three of the Ballon d’Or twice, making our list of the five best players never to win one.
Aguero, unfortunately, cannot stand up to comparison. He has been in the PFA Team of the Year twice, won the golden boot once and that’s it. He’s never been the Premier League player of the season or been in the top three of the the Ballon d’Or.
Based on that, you have to give the category to Henry but doesn’t it feel as though Aguero has been massively underrated?
It’s no wonder that the social media debate on Henry vs. Aguero has been ferocious, the pair are very difficult to separate.
Whilst Sergio Aguero seems to have the goalscoring edge and has showed up slightly more against the biggest teams, Henry has shown his commitment to overall team play by contributing an outrageous number of assists and has been recognised individually to a far greater extent.
Perhaps in the next couple of seasons Aguero will continue performing at such a high level that we will have no choice but to give him the accolade but for now, unfortunately, we’ve bottled it. What do you think?