Sterling not on same level as Messi, Ronaldo, says Guardiola

Man City attacker Raheem Sterling celebrates a goal against Spurs. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 September 2019

Sterling not on same level as Messi, Ronaldo, says Guardiola

  • Others have recently been comparing Sterling to the two dominant players of the last decade

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola would love Raheem Sterling to reach the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Manchester City manager is not sure if any player will be able to equal the feats of that legendary pair.

Others have recently been comparing Sterling to the two dominant players of the last decade.

England manager Gareth Southgate suggested Sterling could eventually be mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo when asked how far the City winger could go if he maintains his superb form.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has also said that he sees Sterling as a potential future winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo have each won five times.

City manager Guardiola is thrilled at Sterling's progress during their three years working together, but having also coached Messi at Barca, he knows the exceptional standards required at that exalted level.

“Right now, Raheem is not in that level, but maybe in the future I wish. It would be a dream for him and for all of us,” said Guardiola.

“The consistency of these two guys, they are legends, something unique in world football.

“If Raheem can target that level — wow. We will be there to help him and of course he can do it.

"But right now, nobody, not in the club, or in all the clubs in the world can compare with these two guys and what they have done every single week for ten years. Nobody.”

Sterling enjoyed his best goal-scoring season last year as he netted 25 times to help City win the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

He has started the new season in electric form with eight goals in seven games for club and country. 

FASTFACT

Raheem Sterling enjoyed his best goal-scoring season last year as he netted 25 times to help City win the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

He scored in both Euro 2020 qualifiers for England during the international break.

To understand what Sterling is up against, Ronaldo's mark of 29 club goals last season for Juventus is the lowest figure either he or Messi have recorded in the last decade.

As City prepare to resume their Premier League campaign, away to Norwich on Saturday, Guardiola has noticed how the 24-year-old is becoming much more clinical in front of goal — as Sterling aims to improve on his best league tally of 18 from 2017-18.

“Before Raheem made good actions and dribbles, but he didn’t finish too much. Now he is a player who can win games for himself,” Guardiola said.

“It is a case of practice, practice, practice — and mentality. The guy who scores goals is because he arrives in front of goal. If you are not there, it’s impossible.

“In the beginning, he didn't get there. Now he is always there. I have the sense that he has the desire and commitment to score goals and that's why he scores more goals and has more assists.”


FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

Updated 07 April 2020

FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

  • Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded Qatar's bid

LONDON: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh FIFA corruption allegations after the release of a new US Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print.

According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.

FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar and Russia’s World Cup bids have always denied paying bribes.

Although FIFA has reacted to previous media allegations about the Qatar bid process by insisting the tournament will be unaffected, the USallegations will lead to further questions over the hosting of the tournament, which is scheduled for November and December of 2022.

The indictment states that the three South American members of FIFA’s 2010 executive — Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator — took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.

“Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and co-conspirator #1 were offered and received bribe payments in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup,” reads the indictment.

Teixeira, the former son-in-law of long-time FIFA boss Joao Havelange and ex-head of the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF), was not immediately reachable for comment.

The DOJ also alleges that then FIFA vice president Jack Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Warner has been accused of a number of crimes in the long-running USprobe and is fighting extradition from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Warner, who was not immediately reachable for comment, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of the local organizing committee for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, told the Interfax news agency: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.

“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.”

Asked if the Kremlin was aware of the US indictment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to.

“Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.”

The Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.

In 2014, FIFA, then under the control of former President Sepp Blatter, cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup after an investigation.

Blatter was banned from football by FIFA along with scores of other officials following internal ethics investigations, promoted by the arrests of seven FIFA officials on UScorruption charges in Zurich in May 2015.