WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

Raheem Sterling epitomises Pep Guardiola’s Man City… but reduced game time may force his exit

Raheem Sterling was 21 years old when Pep Guardiola was appointed manager of Manchester City. He was a raw, smooth winger, but for someone so young, he also had a lot of experience under his belt.

He had scored his first Premier League goal when he was 17, made his England debut the following month and by the time Guardiola blossomed at the Etihad Stadium, he had been playing at the highest level for over a century.

But Sterling was in danger of drifting off. After a £44 million transfer from Liverpool in 2015, he scored just six league goals in his debut season with City and was one of England’s worst players in their disastrous Euro 2016 campaign.

Raheem Sterling signed for Manchester City six years ago in a £44m deal from Liverpool

Raheem Sterling signed for Manchester City six years ago in a £44m deal from Liverpool

Pep Guardiola has transformed Sterling from a raw, fast winger into a powerful goalscorer

Pep Guardiola has transformed Sterling from a raw, fast winger into a powerful goalscorer

It was too early to call him a flop, but Liverpool fans certainly felt they got the better end of the transfer.

Six years later, Sterling has won four league trophies with City and defeated the Reds twice in a title race. He is a powerful attacking threat and first choice for England. That’s because of Guardiola.

No one embodies the Spaniard’s time at City better than Sterling. For starters, he is one of only two players – along with Kevin De Bruyne – on the squad that Guardiola inherited from Manuel Pellegrini. In his entire managerial career, Guardiola has used Sterling more than any other player (292).

But the attacker has also transformed under his tutelage. opponents say Guardiola’s time at Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and City was easy, as he has worked with the world’s best players and has generous transfer budgets. But Sterling is a shining example of Guardiola’s coaching in action.

Sterling has been a key part of City's dominance under Guardiola in recent years

Sterling has been a key part of City’s dominance under Guardiola in recent years

The 27-year-old also impressed for England under manager Gareth Southgate

The 27-year-old also impressed for England under manager Gareth Southgate

He is now a reliable goalscorer and a player defined by so much more than just his speed. Guardiola urged Sterling to operate closer to the penalty area, constantly creating a goal threat by becoming a six-yard box predator. He told him he slowed down the game by stopping the ball while controlling it, when he should have opened his body and used his acceleration to propel the team forward.

Sterling listened, learned and the results are in his numbers. He has hit double digits for Premier League goals in the past five seasons, scoring 31 in all competitions in 2019-20. When he scored his 127th goal for City against Sporting Lisbon in February, he reached the top 10 of the club’s all-time scorers.

Still, it’s hard to ignore that something has gone wrong in recent campaigns and Guardiola is a little stuck on how to best use Sterling. Riyad Mahrez has become famous on the right, while Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are embroiled in their own battle to start on the left. The lack of a traditional City striker has meant that Sterling has been tried as a false nine, but he didn’t fit as well as Foden or De Bruyne.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Sterling’s form has declined, especially as his performances in England have been better than ever in recent years. City fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the 27-year-old, who is able to make significant contributions but also tends to go missing for periods.

The attacker is in the top 10 of Manchester City's all-time record scorers

The attacker is in the top 10 of Manchester City’s all-time record scorers

But Guardiola has lost confidence in him in recent seasons and didn't start him in big games

But Guardiola has lost confidence in him in recent seasons and didn’t start him in big games

An example of this was last season when Sterling scored five goals in four league games in December and scored in just one of their next 11 games, albeit a hat-trick against Norwich.

Guardiola started Sterling in just two of their first 11 league games from 2021-22 and while the attacker regained his place in his purple winter patch, he was out of favor again by the end of the season.

Despite his experience, he was not trusted to start any of the Champions League semi-final matches against Real Madrid and failed to finish 11th for City’s last two Premier League games when they competed for the title.

The attacker insisted on leaving City last summer and a move to Barcelona seemed on the cards before the Spanish club’s interest cooled. After a disappointing season on a personal level, Sterling is now linked with Chelsea and Real Madrid.

He is in its theoretical prime at age 27 and doesn’t want to sit on the couch. That is not to mention the need to play matches and be in shape for the World Cup in November.

The England international is a four-time winner of the Premier League title at the Etihad Stadium

The England international is a four-time winner of the Premier League title at the Etihad Stadium

59507205 10941395 image m 4 1656148932966

Sterling could move to Chelsea or Real Madrid after a frustrating season

There are no places for wingers on Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea squad, so he would probably be used as a number 10 or a false nine, but in a different way than at City. But as the Blues look for a similar replacement for Romelu Lukaku on his way to Inter Milan, it’s hard to see where Sterling fits amid competition from Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount.

There may be more of an opening in Madrid, where Florentino Perez is sure not to let the summer go by without making a statement about offensive signing after being snubbed by Kylian Mbappe.

Moreover, no player managed to take the right-hand spot in Carlo Ancelotti’s team last season. Gareth Bale is gone and Marco Asensio could soon follow, Eden Hazard’s battle continues and Rodrygo is only 21 and scored just four league goals last season. Federico Valverde, who started the Champions League final on that flank, is more suitable as a central midfielder.

Thomas Tuchel doesn't use wingers at Chelsea so Sterling would likely be used as a false nine

Thomas Tuchel doesn’t use wingers at Chelsea so Sterling would likely be used as a false nine

At City, there may be a chance the arrival of Erling Haaland could help Sterling’s prospects. Guardiola no longer needs to lead him to the false nine position and if he can play to the right of a more conventional trinity he could once again bring out the best in him.

But he may not wait to see if it turns out that way, especially as competition from Mahrez, Foden and Grealish continues.

As he completes his six-year stint with the Etihad, there is no doubt that Sterling will go down in history as a City legend. This is the club’s best era ever and he has been one of the key players in a team that has won four Premier League titles, four League Cups and the FA Cup.

It makes Sterling one of the most trophy-laden English players of his generation, but he will feel he can win even more. The Champions League still eludes him and City – perhaps a move to the biggest club ever will solve that particular problem.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More