‘WE COUNT ON HIM’

The England forward scored 23 times for City last season and opened his account for 2018/19 against Arsenal

Pep Guardiola says Raheem Sterling is a player Manchester City count on and is eager for the forward to sign a new contract.

Sterling, a key part of City’s Premier League title success last season, opened the scoring as the defending champions started the new campaign with a 2-0 win at Unai Emery’s Arsenal.

Raheem Sterling nets Manchester City’s first goal against Arsenal

Raheem Sterling nets Manchester City’s first goal against Arsenal

Sterling has two years left to run on the five-year deal signed when he moved to City from Liverpool in July 2015, but has yet to agree terms on an extension.

And Guardiola has made it clear that he views the 23-year-old as crucial to his plans.

“We are delighted with him and would like Raheem to stay,” said the Spaniard.

“We’ll do our effort to make him feel we count on him. And we count on him.

“We arrived after a difficult season and I told him I want to help him and would like him to be happy.

“In the end, the agents may not have agreements and that may not happen. But he knows and his agent knows we like him and want him a lot.”

Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal at the Emirates

Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal at the Emirates

Sterling’s finishing has been under the microscope in the past – it is almost three years since he scored for England – and he marked his goal after just 14 minutes with a cupped ear celebration.

Sterling told Sky Sports: “There’s been a lot of talking…it’s just one of those things I get judged on. I’ve got to keep improving and getting more goals.”

Guardiola defended Sterling’s scoring record.

The City boss said: “If you judge the players in the World Cup if they score a goal or not…Raheem had this special relationship with English football, but he’s so loved in the locker room.

“He made some very good things in the World Cup, how he moved and created space for others. He likes to score goals and he tried, but I’m sure in the European qualifiers he will score goals for his country, England.”

talkSPORT

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