“He’s in incredible form at the moment; sharp, fast, clever, fighting, ambitious, decisive.”
When Pep Guardiola is reeling off superlatives like that to describe your performance you must be doing something right.
Raheem Sterling has gone from a potential game-changer suffering from long-term goalfright to a certified match-winner at Man City.
City thumped Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad tonight with Sterling scoring a fabulous solo goal.
He outmuscled two defenders in midfield before bursting away from both of them and curling a perfect shot into the corner.
It was a blistering display of power, pace and technique to put City 3-0 up in the Champions League.
That stunning effort came days after Sterling scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season and added two assists in a sumptuous performance against Southampton.
Since the beginning of last season’s Premier League only Leroy Sane (18) and Kevin De Bruyne (16) have more than Sterling’s 15 assists.
And only two players have been directly involved in 40+ Premier League goals in the same period, Mo Salah with 50 and Sterling on 40.
He’s showing he’s worth every single penny of the new mega-contract he verbally agreed last week.
Now Sterling is one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League playing in the most dangerous attacking Europe in England, if not Europe.
With Harry Kane trundling along on his usual diet of a goal a game, Sterling is quickly becoming the best English player in the world.
And he’s only going to get better.
Guardiola said yesterday that Sterling’s evolution from a player to scared to shoot into the dominant English force is all down to his mental game.
Sterling is level with Kane as the top English scorer in the league and is joint top with Eden Hazard and Sergio Aguero for goals and assists on 11 already this season.
The Spanish genius has crafted the 23-year-old into an assertive and lethal presence in front of goal, these days you expect the net to ripple whenever he has a chance.
But as if to prove he has the complete game Sterling showed his generous side as well yesterday to set up Sane for the sixth goal.
One-on-one with the final defender and on a hat-trick in the 90th minute, Sterling selflessly rolled it to his fellow flyer to bobble home.
To operate as one of the best players in a dominant Guardiola team puts Sterling out on his own as the most dangerous weapon available to Gareth Southgate.
Kane is the front man but Sterling offers a sense of unpredictability in attack – these are the players the national team need to win tournaments.
Sterling is no flat-track bully either.
He was sensational against Saints but he also scored away at the Emirates earlier in the season and set up the winner against Spurs last week.
On international duty he scored twice against David De Gea, one beautiful curling shot and one tap-in.
With six goals in 13 games and maturing into a devilish attacker, Sterling is well on his way to beating his record goal haul of 23 in 46 from last season.
Kane better watch out because Sterling is coming for his crown.
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