Many fans of the English Premier League expected Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling to leave after the arrival of Pep Guardiola as the £50 million signing from Liverpool had failed to set the Etihad alight.
Last season under manager Manuel Pellegrini, Sterling saw his Premier League stats nosedive as he could provide mere two assists through the whole season apart from scoring 06 goals.
However, the current campaign stats are far better for the 2014 Golden Boy award winner as he has already equalled last season’s numbers in assists besides adding two goals, one-third of last season’s total.
So, what is in his current form for Manchester City?
Deservedly, significant improvement in Sterling’s performance has been credited to new coach Guardiola who has given him the individual coaching and direction that he lacked under Pellegrini.
Just the previous season (2013-14) at Liverpool, he turned heads with his nine goals and five assists in 23 matches.
At the time, the Jamaica-born forward was able to learn from former Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers, who gave the player direction and instruction on how to play his brand of attacking football.
The laid back Pellegrini was the complete opposite, preferring the £50m signing to get on with it when selected in the team.
While Sterling finished fourth in Premier League goals for Manchester City last term, it was those other categories that truly suffered.
Under Guardiola, his key passes per game have improved slightly, up to 1.3 from 1.1, according to WhoScored.com.
Sterling has also seen a marked improvement in dribbles performed as well, up to 3.3 from 1.3 in 2015-16, showing he is ready to take on defenders more often this season.
Sterling’s propensity to be fouled this term also indicates his interest in getting more physical and shows that he is more comfortable dribbling at defences. With an inclination to run at opposition full-backs, Raheem should begin putting more assists together.
Guardiola’s influence on Sterling is definitely one reason the No. 7 has shown improvement. However, the addition of Nolito over the summer shouldn’t be overlooked either as the pair gives City a truly dynamic force playing on either side of Sergio Aguero.
In his own way, Sterling can become Manchester City’s Lionel Messi under the tutelage of the Argentine’s former coach.
Messi became a complete player under Guardiola, taking the raw talent and skill he had and refining it. Will Sterling grow under Guardiola like Messi did at Barcelona? Manchester City fans will hope he can.