Football News

Raheem Sterling backed to fill void left when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo retire

By Harry Edwards

Raheem Sterling

Published: 18:35, 13 September 2019

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has the ability to win the Ballon d’Or in the “next four or five years”, according to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.

Sterling, 24, joined Man City from Liverpool in 2015 and has become one of the Premier League’s most devastating attacking players under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.

Can Sterling challenge for the Ballon d’Or? Five things to know…

  • Raheem Sterling is enjoying a fine start to the 2019/20 season.
  • The winger has scored five goals in four Premier League games for Man City.
  • Sterling also recorded two goals and two assists in England’s two recent Euro 2020 qualifiers.
  • Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher has tipped Sterling to fight for the Ballon d’Or over the next four or five years.
  • But Man City manager Guardiola hopes Sterling pays no attention to the praise, focusing on his football.

The Englishman scored 35 goals and recorded 21 assists across the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, helping City win back-to-back Premier League titles – the first side to do so since Manchester United in 2009.

Sterling has carried that fine form into the new season, already scoring five goals in four games, earning him a nomination for the Premier League’s Player of the Month for August, though Teemu Pukki would ultimately win.

The 24-year-old has also started to find his feet with the England national team, scoring eight goals in his past eight games for the Three Lions having managed just two in his first 45 caps.

As a result, Sterling has been tipped to go on to even greater things for club and country. And Carragher believes Sterling can become a global superstar.

“I have seen it written since the midweek internationals Sterling is England’s best player. He is much more than that,” Carragher wrote in the Telegraph.

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“He is now in the top five or six best attacking players in the world, in that group just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I wrote recently he and Sadio Mane are the best left-sided players out there. I now rate Sterling above Neymar.

“His ambition, alongside Kylian Mbappe, should be to fill the post-Messi and Ronaldo void once they retire. He is a potential Ballon d’Or winner over the next four or five years, the current upward trajectory destined to make Sterling a global superstar.”

Sterling will be looking to continue his fine start to the season when Manchester City travel to an injury-hit Norwich City on Saturday.

Guardiola squashes Ronaldo and Messi comparisons for Sterling

Despite Sterling’s growing importance to Manchester City over the past few seasons, Guardiola is keen to keep the Englishman’s head down, throwing out comparisons to Ronaldo and Messi.

“I’m so happy for him, for the way he’s playing here and national team, but hopefully he won’t read or listen to these kind of things,” he told reporters.

“Nobody can compare with Cristiano or Lionel Messi.

“I don’t know if he’s the best in England, you’re the journalist, but since we’ve been together, not just now, he’s been incredible, with a great work ethic and he’s a nice guy, so I’m delighted for him.”