Former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has backed Raheem Sterling to reach the 30-goal mark this campaign.
The England phenom has already registered five goals across all competitions this season, including an insatiable Premier League hat-trick against West Ham.
Could Sterling reach 30? Five things to know…
- Sterling has transformed into a winger of real substance under Guardiola.
- Prior to his arrival in the North West, Sterling was often criticised for his lack of end product.
- However, since the start of 2017/18 Sterling’s combined total of goals and assists is 60 in 69 Premier League games.
- He has also created 123 chances in that time and currently leads this season’s Golden Boot race alongside Teemu Pukki.
- This form has prompted Wright-Phillips to argue that he could reach the 30-goal mark this term.
Since Pep Guardiola took charge in 2017, Sterling has experienced a rapid change in his game, evolving from frightening winger to devastating goalscorer.
Prior to the Catalonian’s arrival, Sterling’s best return was 11 goals, but across the past two seasons he has eclipsed the 20-goal barrier, and now looks set to reach Ronaldo or Messi heights this time round according to Wright-Phillips.
He told City’s official website: “He’s outstanding. He’s a delight to watch, always plays with a smile on his face and does what City fans love – works hard, fights for the club and under Pep he’s grown so much.
“People always talk about his end product and now you just expect him to have 15 assists a season.
“It’s looking like he could hit 30 goals this season and I hope he does.”
So far in his career, Sterling’s best single-season total is 18 Premier League goals and 25 across all competitions.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
“Raheem handled it like a boss”
It is not just Sterling’s on-field antics which have inspired, but also the example he has set off from the pitch.
In December 2018 Sterling was targeted with racial abuse by a group of supporters during an away match against Chelsea. Wright-Phillips praised Sterling’s response, which was to call out discrepancies in how white and black players are portrayed by sections of the media, in the immediate aftermath.
“Raheem handled it like a boss,” Wright-Phillips said.
“Obviously now there’s a bigger platform to speak out so he could get his message and point across to a lot more people whereas when it happened to me social media wasn’t that powerful.
“The way I dealt with it was to laugh at it and say: ‘How old are you?’ We’re in a different time now and football is multicultural.
!”It’s horrible to see it still in the game, especially for kids growing up now. That’s why the way Raheem dealt with it is powerful because kids follow him and will know it isn’t acceptable.
“So many people have always been on his back and I’ve never understood why. He’s a family man and you never hear about him messing around. Although his image is outstanding now, I never thought it was bad in the first place.”
Last week, three professional footballers – Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Reading’s Yakou Meite – were racially abused on social media. Teammates, managers, clubs and anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out subsequently called on Twitter to do more to combat racism on its platform while England coach Phil Neville suggested a six-month boycott of social media within the football community.