Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists Raheem Sterling retains his greatest confidence despite being excluded from the club’s starting lineup in recent times.
Sterling has only started two of City’s last eight games in all competitions, having long been a cornerstone of Pep’s plans at the Etihad Stadium.
But the manager is adamant that he still has a big role to play for the Premier League leaders.
What was said?
“The trust with Raheem is intact,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.
“It’s the same as when we got here.
“[The only reason] why he played less is because there is sometimes Gabriel (Jesus) or especially Phil (Foden) or Riyad (Mahrez) and they are at the top level, scoring goals and being decisive in the last third .
“He has to have confidence. He has the confidence of all of us, he has to have it. Because the quality is there. I cannot give confidence to the players.
“They have to have it for themselves to give me the confidence to be selected.
“I have said over and over again what we have done during these amazing years, with the number of titles breaking records in the process… Raheem is the key.
“He was a key player and a key player. But at the moment Phil is playing really well and Riyadh is playing really well.”
The big picture
Sterling has flourished since coming under Guardiola’s wing at City, especially with his ability in front of goal.
The England winger has improved year on year in this aspect, scoring 20 2019-20 Premier League goals to record his best season, down from just six in his first term after leaving Liverpool in 2015-16.
This year, however, it faced new competition as Foden became a quality alternative.
The 20-year-old has scored 13 goals in all competitions during the current period, including strikes in both legs from the Champions League quarter-final to see Borussia Dortmund.