Pep Guardiola responds to Raheem Sterling’s exit talk
Pep Guardiola has responded to comments from Raheem Sterling, who is interested in a move abroad and isn’t happy with his lack of minutes at Manchester City.
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Raheem Sterling, 26, has been left out of the starting lineup for most of this season by Pep Guardiola and the England international seems very frustrated.
Now, Sterling has revealed he is open to a move abroad and that coincides with reports linking him with a move to Barcelona in upcoming transfer windows.
Speaking to the FT Business of Sport US summit, here is what Sterling said.
What did Raheem Sterling say?
“If there was an opportunity to go somewhere else, (for more game time), I would be open to it at this moment in time. As I said, football is the most important thing to me - challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well, to play abroad,” Sterling said.
“As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I have always had something down (in me) that maybe one day I would love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge. I’m not a person that’s going to complain. I’ve not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is.
“I get on with my work, do what I need to do. And I’m just raring to go - playing football matches regularly, score goals regularly. From being a young child, football has been the most important thing in my life, my most happiest I should say. If I want my happiness at a certain level I need to be playing football. I need to be scoring goals and enjoying myself.”
What has Guardiola been saying?
Asked about Sterling’s comments in his press conference ahead of the game against Burnley on Saturday, (watch live, 10am ET on Peacock Premium) Guardiola had this to say.
“I cannot assure how many minutes players are going to play, they have to show it on the grass,” Guardiola said. “That is the best moment, not just for Raheem, for all of them. They are all involved. What I want for Raheem and for everyone is to be happy. They have to be satisfied, they have to be delighted to be at this club.
“If that is not the case, they are free to make decisions that are best for them, their families and all the people who love them. That is the most important thing. For them to be happy. As a football player, they all want to play 90 minutes, but I cannot assure them, they have to prove it in training.”
What has Sterling been left out?
With less than two years left on his current contract at Manchester City, this feels like Sterling is at a real crossroads in his career.
The only thing he hasn’t won at City is the UEFA Champions League and it seems like City, Sterling and Guardiola may all think this is a good time to part ways.
“Raheem is so important for us but he competes with Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Ferran [Torres], Gabriel [Jesus], Riyad [Mahrez] with Bernardo [Silva]. This is the reality,” Guardiola added. “In the top clubs this is the reality and sometimes it is difficult for me to take the decision to not give one player the chance to play. It is so difficult, but it is what it is. There is no alternative. The way is to train harder.”
Sterling is an exceptional player but it seems like Pep wants to go with Foden, Jesus, Grealish and De Bruyne as his main attacking options with rotating false nines, and City will push hard to sign Erling Haaland next summer as their focal point up top.
All of that means Sterling is the odd man out. And he seems to know it.