Manchester City have poured north of £1 billion into creating the footballing masterclass their team is today. It’s an investment which, helped by manager Pep Guardiola, has in actuality been a gift to the impartial fan and the football purist.
With Guardiola at the helm, Manchester City have been able to display some of the best possession-based attacking football the sport has ever seen. After years of dominating football’s most competitive league, the men in sky blue seem as qualified as any to take home European silver and stamp their name as the world’s best.
There are a number of names that have been central to building the success of Manchester City today. The likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero instantly come to mind.
Although Toure is no longer there, Aguero is still hitting the back of the net with regularity and the ageless Silva remains himself. But it’s the young guns – Raheem Sterling and pass-master Kevin De Bruyne – that lead a bright future on top of the world-class footballing model perfected by Guardiola.
In particular, it’s Sterling who’s recent and somewhat surprising top-draw consistency has stood alone in a stellar rise to footballing royalty.
Sterling graces the pitch with impeccable pace and tight footwork, breaking lines and engineering goal-scoring opportunities from seemingly nowhere.
Since the 2017-18 season, the 24-year-old has seemed to shake his finishing woes scoring 18 goals with 11 assists followed by a 17-goal, ten-assist season in the EPL alone.
This season, he has scored seven goals and had an assist in City’s first nine league matches, and four goals from three matches in the UEFA Champions League which included a brilliant hat-trick in his side’s 5-1 demolition of Atalanta.
With his seven EPL goals, Sterling currently sits ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (both four) in league goals for the season and is not looking like slowing down. The City forward is slightly behind the five-time golden ball winners in career goals at that same age but is being projected to reach similar heights if his form continues to blossom at the rate it is.
Sterling is now closing in on EPL legend Eden Hazard and is 12 behind the Belgian’s EPL goal record. Yes, he has only made ten fewer appearances in the league but he is three years younger and finished the last two seasons ahead of him on league goals. These were the Hazard seasons that saw him labelled as the heir to Messi and Ronaldo and led to his transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Sterling has the right team, the right manager, the technical ability and a growing hunger for goals that can allow him to win the biggest club and individual awards available. Manchester City have attained a maximum nine points in the UCL group stages and Sterling ranks among the top ten for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
If Sterling’s upward trajectory continues, from next year, we could be calling Raheem Sterling the world’s best footballer.