Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Raheem Sterling will be an “incredible” striker for the club after experimenting with a positional change.
The England international started as a centre-forward in the Community Shield win over Liverpool last weekend and followed up by scoring a hat-trick against West Ham United on Saturday.
New role for Raheem Sterling? Five things to know…
- Habitually a winger, Sterling was deployed as a centre-forward against Liverpool last Sunday.
- The 24-year-old was also utilised through the middle across numerous pre-season matches.
- The positional tweak yielded five goals during City’s summer preparations.
- As such, Guardiola entrusted Sterling with a starting striker berth against Liverpool.
- He now believes the winger-cum-striker is ready to lead the line for his side.
The reigning Premier League champions kicked off their title defence in emphatic fashion, humbling the Hammers 5-0 in their curtain raiser at the London Stadium.
Integral to that rout was Sterling, who was at the heart of everything positive produced by the north west club in the capital, and Guardiola has now outlined his intentions to develop the incisive winger into an “incredible” No 9.
“I know the special qualities of the player, the consistency, physicality, the finishing,” said Guardiola.
“For the second goal against West Ham the control was not good but the finish good, the third goal was really good.
“He is in his first days playing as a striker but for me striker will be an incredible position for him, but he can play in three positions up front.”
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“You’re surprised if he doesn’t score” – Shearer
Former England international Alan Shearer was also quick to provide a glowing account of Sterling, believing the winger has transformed into an “unplayable” forward of real substance.
“When he gets in good positions now you’re surprised if he doesn’t score,” Shearer said on Match of the Day. “He is so confident and has so much belief in himself. He was almost unplayable.
“His numbers in the last two years are outstanding – 35 goals and 32 assists in the Premier League.
“And in the last six years he’s played more than 30 times every year – incredible, what a player!”