Aguero to step into Maradona's shadow in Napoli
Sergio Aguero is about to step into the very large shadow of father in law Diego Maradona, playing on the same pitch where the Argentine great won two Italian league titles for Napoli.
Aguero will line up for Manchester City against the southern Serie A club in a Champions League match at San Paolo stadium on Tuesday.
Having joined City from Atletico Madrid for a reported transfer fee of 35 million pounds in July, Aguero has thus far lived up to his billing with 10 goals in 11 Premier League matches.
He also came off the bench to score Argentina's winner in a 2-1 win over Colombia in a World Cup qualifier last week.
''I'm absolutely not nervous. I'm just going to try to have fun,'' the 23-year-old Aguero said. ''Of course Maradona did great here, but I'm just going to try and give my best tomorrow.''
Aguero has been together with Maradona's daughter, Giannina, for several years and the couple have a son, Benjamin, who was born in 2009.
However, Aguero has been linked with Maradona as far as back as 2003, when he became the youngest every player in Argentina's top division at the age of 15, breaking the previous record set by Maradona.
Aguero will undoubtedly be treated with affection by Napoli's rabid fans - many of whom still name their children Diego after Maradona's exploits.
''I don't know how they'll treat me, but hope to be welcomed on any pitch I play on,'' Aguero said in comments translated from Spanish. ''Maradona is a god in Argentina.
''I haven't been able to speak to him after his mother's death but I want to send my condolences,'' Aguero said, referring to the death of Maradona's mother Saturday, adding: ''It's definitely a dream of mine to repeat what Maradona did. Not just individually, though, but with the entire City team.''
He wouldn't let on if Argentina teammate and Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi had ever asked him to play for Napoli.
''It's tough to talk about football when we're with the national team,'' Aguero said. ''We don't see each other often, so we talk about other things, and anyhow that would be a lack of respect to our clubs.''
City manager Roberto Mancini played against Maradona with Sampdoria in the 1980s and 90s - the period when Maradona led Napoli to Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, and the 1989 UEFA Cup.
''I have lots of memories here - from when we were much younger,'' Mancini said. ''There were lots of goals scored, especially by Diego.''
The match also marks a return of sorts for former Inter Milan forward Mario Balotelli, who left the Italian league for City in 2010.
Balotelli has scored six goals in eight Premier League games this season, and Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has credited Mancini with the striker's improved maturity.
''I'm trying to give him a hand just like I do with everyone,'' Mancini said. ''But he's the one who has changed and wants to show what he's worth. I hope that he plays tomorrow the same way he's played the last three months.''
Meanwhile, Mancini wasn't about to be drawn into recent comparisons between City - which is leading the Premier League - and the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
''We have great players - a lot of them, but it's early yet to say we're like Real or Barca,'' Mancini said. ''We've really only been playing together for a year and a half. We still need to improve a lot. I think we're closer to Napoli right know than Barca or Real.''