Some of the stick that Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling has had to endure in the last few seasons has been ridiculous. Sterling did go through a period a few years ago when he looked useless and I criticised him for that in an editorial.
However, some publications started what seemed like a personal vendetta against the youngster, which was nothing to do with football. He is a young guy in the public eye, he is just trying to live his life.
Now, though, Sterling has had the last laugh on his critics by playing a key role in Manchester City’s title victory. Nobody can deny that Sterling has been a prominent part of one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen, having just won his first title winners medal.
Best season of his career
Since Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City, Raheem Sterling has gone from strength to strength. The Catalan boss is criticised by some for only taking over at top teams.
However, there is no doubting Guardiola’s ability to develop young talent and help turn them into top performers. Sterling had undoubted talent when he joined City from Liverpool, but Guardiola has given him the belief to go to the next level.
Last season he weighed in with seven top-flight goals and six assists. This season Sterling has scored 17 goals and produced 13 assists in the Premier League, which is an impressive tally for most top-flight forwards.
This season is, without doubt, the best season of his career so far. At 23 years-old, he still has the potential to develop into an even better player. That is frightening for the rest of the Premier League.
Needs to work on his finishing
After such praise, I do not want to be too negative. However, if there is one weakness in Sterling’s game it is his finishing. It sounds strange to say considering he has scored 24 goals in all competitions.
It is true though. His goal tally could have been so much bigger this season with a bit of calmness and composure in front of goal. His two missed opportunities in City’s recent derby defeat by Manchester United are case in point.
He has missed many more opportunities this season. Sterling seems to have the instincts to be in the right place and time to get the scoring opportunities but sometimes fluffs his lines.
However, I am sure that is nothing that Guardiola and his coaching staff have not already told the winger. Maybe Sterling will become more composed with age and experience. He has matured a lot in the last two years, so maybe that is a part of his game that they improve in the near future.
A vital player for England this summer
England heads to Russia for this summer’s World Cup with low expectations. However, big things will be expected of Sterling, who two years ago at the Euro’s was lambasted for his poor displays.
Fast-forward two years and he is a key player for the Three Lions. In fact, the winger is odds of 1/33 to make the Three Lions squad, with no player shorter odds than Sterling to be on the plane with Gareth Southgate’s team.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a stellar campaign so far with City, a good World Cup would just cap the season off nicely for the winger.
Now if only he learns to finish, then he could become a truly special player in the near future. Only time will tell. However, with Guardiola as his mentor, anything is possible for the formerly much-maligned winger.
Can Raheem Sterling become an even better player in the future?
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