Pep Guardiola has advised Raheem Sterling to forget about being the best in the world – and just let it happen.
Manchester City's Spanish coach reckons Sterling has taken his game to a new level in the four years he's worked with the 25-year-old England striker.
Sterling scored 35 goals in 57 games for club and country last season and has hit the ground running again with six in thirteen matches so far in this campaign.
And as he prepares to unleash Sterling against Jurgen Klopp's champions at The Etihad today in an early season clash of the titans, Guardiola is confident his former Anfield attacker can be a true great.
With age reeling in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo the duo will no longer dominate the Ballon d'Or as they did at the height of their powers.
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Sterling has been tipped to be an eventual winner of the prestigious award – but Guardiola doesn't believe he should fixate on greatness.
“My advice? What I would say to him is don't think about this so much – it makes no sense.
“Just enjoy the life, focus and the destiny will dictate who he is as a player.
“I know he's one of the most fantastic players I have in my career as a manager. It depends on him of course and his performance.”
Sterling was struggling to become a clinical finisher before Guardiola's arrival at The Etihad in 2016.
Since then, though, his numbers have gone through the roof.
After scoring 10 goals the first season Guardiola took charge, Sterling then improved dramatically bagging 23 in the following campaign then 31 in 2018-19 before hitting 35 last season.
It's improvement which has given Sterling a world-wide profile and he's now seen as one of Europe's deadliest attackers marrying his formidable pace with goals.
And that upward trajectory has delighted Guardiola.
“I think he is a better player since I arrived and in four years time hopefully he will be an even better player than he is now” says Guardiola.
“It's a process but I think Raheem is already an exceptional player. He plays all the minutes, has the physicality and against Liverpool he will be there again.
“Of course, there will be a moment when he will take a rest but in this moment he is a very important player for us and why we count on him.
“I am pretty sure, especially because of his mentality and desire to win, that he's improved a lot since we arrived and all the credit is for him.
“And I wish in three, four or five years he will be a much much better player than he is today.”
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