Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola praises Sterling's contribution and pledges to retain City's star man


Delighted: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Delighted: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

By Matt McGeehan

Pep Guardiola wants Raheem Sterling to stay at Manchester City.

The 23-year-old England forward scored his 50th Premier League goal as the champions began their title defence with a 2-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday.

Sterling has two years left to run on the five-year deal signed when he moved to City from Liverpool in July 2015.

"We are delighted with him and would like Raheem to stay," Guardiola said. "We'll do our effort to make him feel we count on him. And we count on him.

"We arrived after a difficult season and I told him I want to help him and would like him to be happy. In the end, the agents may not have agreements and that may not happen. But he knows and his agent knows we like him and want him a lot."

Sterling's finishing has been under the microscope in the past - it is almost three years since he scored for England - and he marked his goal after just 14 minutes with a cupped ear celebration.

Sterling told Sky Sports: "There's been a lot of's just one of those things I get judged on. I've got to keep improving and getting more goals."

Guardiola defended Sterling's goalscoring record.

The City boss said: "If you judge the players in the World Cup if they score a goal or not... Raheem had this special relationship with English football, but he's so loved in the locker room.

"He made some very good things in the World Cup, how he moved and created space for others. I'm sure in the European qualifiers he will score goals for his country, England."

Sterling played from the start despite only returning to training a week ago, while Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench.

Key to City's bid for continual improvement is the competition in the squad which requires the players maintain high standards, Guardiola said.

"They have to feel and be at a high level, and know the team-mates will be in their position," Guardiola said.

"Everyone is going to play a lot of minutes and, in every moment, they have to be ready."

France left back Benjamin Mendy is like a new recruit, given he missed much of last season with a serious knee injury.

Guardiola said the World Cup winner has space to improve on and off the pitch.

He said: "Mendy is Mendy. Sometimes you want to kill him. Sometimes you say, 'Wow, what a player'.

"Mendy has a lot of things to improve. Hopefully we can convince him to be calm and forget a bit the social media and focus on what he has to do."

Unai Emery was taking charge of Arsenal for the first time in a competitive game, succeeding Arsene Wenger following the Frenchman's near 22-year reign.

"I am happy with the players," Emery said.

"The team, for 90 minutes, they ran, they tried, they pushed, but we need to improve all collective and individual aspects.

"We have to continue working tactically and defensively, and also making shorter the difference between Manchester City and us."

Belfast Telegraph


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