Samir Nasri has described Raheem Sterling as “one of the hottest prospects in world football” and backed his new Manchester City team-mate to show “stupid fans” just how good he is.
Sterling, making his City debut following an acrimonious transfer from Liverpool, was jeered by some supporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in an International Champions Cup match against Roma on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old responded by opening the scoring with a well-taken goal after just three minutes and was a lively presence throughout his 45 minutes on the pitch.
City won the match 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw, but the real talking point was the crowd’s initial treatment of Sterling, a likely sign of things to come ahead of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
Nasri, who has experience of being a target for opposition supporters after his bitter exit from Arsenal in 2011, was pleased to see the new arrival answer his critics in emphatic fashion.
“That was really important,” he said when quizzed on Sterling’s debut goal.
“You always have stupid fans on a football pitch. The same thing happened to me when I left Arsenal. I just think you have to move on. He chose to come to Manchester City, they have to respect his decision. He’s a young player, talented. Just let him play, he’s going to show you how talented he is.”
Nasri went on to say he has not yet spoken to Sterling about what to expect back in England.
“We didn’t expect this – it’s a game between AS Roma and Manchester City in Australia,” the Frenchman added.
“We didn’t expect any other fans to be there. So it’s a little surprise and weird. So if he needs any advice or anything about, he can come to ask me.”
As for Sterling’s goal, Nasri said: “Of course, it’s really good for his confidence, really good for the team.
“We know his first ball, there was booing by some fans. Then after three minutes he scores, so it was good for his confidence. We saw a little bit of what he can do for us. He can bring speed, skills. He should have had two penalties as well.”
Nasri was also asked on whether Sterling can make the difference in City’s bid to regain the Premier League title from Chelsea.
“It depends how he adjusts to the squad, depends as well which system we are going to play,” he continued.
“If we play 4-3-3 he can bring us what he did tonight – speed, goals. He is one of the hottest prospects in world football. If the transfer [fee] is not too heavy, he can bring many, many things to the table.”
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