Manuel Pellegrini insists Sergio Aguero is on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But the Manchester City boss accepts his striker may need to win the Champions League to prove it.

The Argentine scored five goals in a 20-minute spell in Saturday’s 6-1 demolition of Newcastle. It was a stunning return to form after he had found the net just once from open play this season and been hampered by a knee injury.

And Pellegrini believes the 27-year-old is in the same bracket as the world’s best players.

“After what we have seen here, of course Kun [Aguero] is at that level. I have already said that after Ronaldo and Messi he is the best player in the world,” said the City boss.

“He always makes important things [contributions] in competitions.

“But the important thing is, not only for Kun, but as a team we must continue to improve, to win the Premier League again and to win the Champions League, because Messi and Ronaldo are always involved in that competition and that is very important for a player.”

Aguero has finished as City’s top scorer in three out of four seasons since being signed from Atletico Madrid for £38m in 2011.

In the other campaign he shared the accolade with compatriot Carlos Tevez. He suffered a setback last month after being hurt in a tackle from Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann but Pellegrini had no doubt the goals would soon return.

The City boss added: “Of course, I am always talking to all the players, especially when they are not in their best moments.

“But the most encouraging thing for Kun is the way we play.

“We always play attractive, offensive football. We always put technical players in our starting eleven to try to create the space [for him].”

The Premier League leaders are next in action at home to Bournemouth on October 17.

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