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.”


Man City ‘deserve’ Champions League return, says Guardiola

Updated 46 min 2 sec ago

Man City ‘deserve’ Champions League return, says Guardiola

  • UEFA handed Man City a two-season sanction in February over alleged breaches of financial fair play rules
  • Man City appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a verdict is expected on Monday

BRIGHTON, UK: Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City deserve their place in the Champions League next season as the club wait to find out whether their two-season ban against playing in European competitions will be overturned.
City were handed the two-season sanction by UEFA in February over alleged breaches of financial fair play rules, but appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which will deliver its verdict on Monday.
On the field, City ensured they will finish in the Premier League’s top four with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.
“Today we achieved one incredible challenge, which is qualification for the Champions League mathematically,” said Guardiola.
“We deserve to be there because we won it on the pitch. Hopefully on Monday UEFA can allow us to play like this team and these players deserve to.”
For the fourth time in their last six league games, City scored four or more goals in another performance that belied the 21-point gap between them and champions Liverpool.
However, they could still end the season with a treble of trophies as they face Arsenal in the semifinals of the FA Cup next weekend before recommencing their Champions League campaign in August.
“I have the feeling all the team is ready to play good for what we have ahead of us,” added Guardiola.
“The levels we’ve had since the restart, even the games we lost, have been really good.”
Too often City have been found wanting for failing to take their chances and punished for defensive lapses at the other end.
However, there was never any chance of Brighton adding to their nine league defeats this season once Sterling curled home his 25th goal of the season with unerring accuracy into the far corner.
“I think the problem we’ve had this season is we’ve created a lot of chances and not taken them whereas last season and the season before we’d finish them and bury games early on,” said Sterling.
“This season we haven’t had that slight bit of luck.”
Gabriel Jesus could have the responsibility of leading the line when City’s bid to win the Champions League for the first time gets back underway with Sergio Aguero facing a race against time to be fit after knee surgery.
The Brazilian has not always been the most prolific finisher, but showed striker’s instincts to tap Rodrigo’s flick-on for a corner to make it 2-0 just before half-time with his 20th goal of the season.
Sterling notched his second of the night in unusual fashion by crashing home a header from Mahrez’s teasing cross.
Brighton did themselves no favors for the fourth as Mat Ryan spiled a Bernardo Silva shot he should have held and Jesus teed up the Portuguese midfielder to roll into an unguarded net at the second attempt..
Sterling was left on as Kevin De Bruyne and Jesus made way to give him the chance of securing a hat-trick and he did so with a hint of fortune as the ball ricocheted off his head after he had fallen to the floor inside the area and Dan Burn failed to clear the ball off the line.
Brighton are still not mathematically safe as they remain eight points above the relegation zone, but Graham Potter’s men should already have enough points on the board as third-bottom Bournemouth face the daunting task of being City’s next opponents on Wednesday.
“We were well beaten by the better team,” admitted Potter.
“They beat Liverpool 4-0 at the Etihad so better teams than us will find it dificult.”