Sterling rises in Guardiola’s esteem

Raheem Sterling has been told that
improving his goalscoring record is the key
to securing his long-term Manchester City
Sterling could have moved to Arsenal in
August as City tried to secure the £60million
($78million) signing of Alexis Sanchez, but
both deals ended up falling through.
The England winger declared last month he
never considered the prospect of moving to
Arsenal, and he was determined to make
himself a success in Manchester.
Manager Pep Guardiola has made clear
Sterling needs to be a regular goalscorer in
order to thrive at City.
The message appears to have got through
as Sterling is now on course for the best
goalscoring season of his career, with the
help of City coach Mikel Arteta, a former
Arsenal captain.
“I think Raheem is enjoying scoring goals,”
said Guardiola as his team prepared for
Sunday’s home game against Arsenal.
“He’s not scared, he’s not afraid to take a
“And now he’s seeing how fun, how good
it is to score goals. Now he’s more focused
on that.
“Mikel Arteta is working many, many hours
and days after training specifically about
the last action on the pitch -– that control in
the last moment to make the right
movement in the final three or four metres.
“Raheem has wanted to stay there on the
training pitch, to improve, to practise, to
shoot at the goalkeepers.”
Goalscoring used to be a problem for
Sterling -– who often looked nervy when
chances came his way, particularly in his
early career.
He has never scored more than 11 goals in
a season, but has 10 already this term,
having hit four in his past five matches.
Guardiola added: “I think it’s mainly
because he’s decided: ‘I want to score
goals. I can do that and I’m enjoying that.
“His final pass still has to improve – he has
to do it better. He has got better but he can
still do better.”
– ‘Agree a referendum’ –
Meanwhile, Guardiola has called for a
referendum to resolve the Catalonia
independence crisis after describing the
jailing of eight politicians as ‘scary’.
A Spanish judge sent eight members of the
sacked Catalan government to prison on
Thursday pending possible charges over
last week’s declaration of independence.
It follows the decision by the same judge,
Carmen Lamela, to imprison two pro-
independence leaders for alleged sedition
in the run-up to a non-binding public
independence referendum on October 1,
which was held despite being declared
illegal by the courts.
Spain’s central government suspended
Catalonia’s autonomy, and called snap
elections in the area for December 21, after
its regional parliament voted in favour of
independence last Friday.
Former Barcelona player and manager
Guardiola, who voted in last month’s
referendum by post, is known as a proud
“I wish the 11 politicians that they have put
in prison are released soon,” he said.
“I’m a little bit worried, because what
happened to them could happen to us for
giving an opinion.
“If it could happen to them, then it could
happen to anyone, even to people who
don’t think it could happen to them.
“The two persons leading the Catalan
organisation were put in prison for asking
to vote in a legal referendum.
“I think that the Spanish government and
the Catalan government should sit and talk
and try to agree a referendum. Until then,
it’s a really difficult situation to be solved.”
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