Manchester City will do all they can to help Raheem Sterling get to the same level as “absolute legends” Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says Pep Guardiola.
The England international has been in outstanding form in the early stages of the 2019-20 season, following on from two highly productive campaigns that saw him score 35 league goals as City won back-to-back Premier League titles.
Sterling also found the net in Euro 2020 qualifying wins over Bulgaria and Kosovo while away on international duty, though Guardiola played down comparisons to superstars Messi and Ronaldo ahead of his side’s clash with Norwich City.
Still, the Spaniard sees no reason why the former Liverpool forward, 24, should not have ambitions to match the lofty standards set by the duo.
“Right now he is not in that level, I wish maybe in the future,” Guardiola told the media.
“It would be a dream for him, for all of us and for him, but right now these two guys the last decade have scored 50, 60 goals every season and I don’t know how many assists.
“They have won the Ballon d’Or and all the individual prizes every single season, except maybe last season.
“So the consistency of these two guys – they are legends, they are something unique in world football. And if Raheem can target that level, wow.
“We will be here to help him and of course he can do it, I will not be the guy to say don’t think about that. No, absolutely not, I want it.
“But right now, nobody, not in this club but in all the clubs in the world, nobody can compare to what they have done every single week for 10 years. They [Messi and Ronaldo] are absolute legends and nobody can compare, nobody.”
England manager Gareth Southgate said after the win over Bulgaria that the biggest change in Sterling’s attitude had been his desire to score goals.
“I think with Brendan Rodgers in Liverpool, he played incredibly well, and with the national team he’s played incredibly well,” Guardiola said.
“So, I think his style, his desire, I think, the most I saw from the beginning is the fact he has an incredible mentality, he’s a winning player.
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“Before he made good actions but didn’t finish too much. And now he’s a player who can win games for himself.”