Pep Guardiola backs ‘dangerous’ Raheem Sterling to hit more goals

Pep Guardiola is backing Raheem Sterling to deliver plenty of goals for Manchester City this season.

England forward Sterling shone in wider attacking roles in the last campaign and could get a run in the central positions this term.

The 22-year-old came off the bench to score City’s equaliser in Monday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Everton on Monday and went close with a couple of other opportunities.

Sterling also netted in three of City’s four pre-season games and City boss Guardiola wants to see more of that finishing ability.

Guardiola, who recently criticised his team for not taking enough of their chances, said: “In the pre-season last season Raheem played all the time out wide and this season, since the pre-season game against Real Madrid, in the second half, he has played more as a number 10, behind the striker.

“He is so dangerous in that position. I like him to sit there closer to the middle because he commits the central defenders. He is so aggressive in the small spaces. That is good.

“He scored a goal. In the last four or five games, he scored a goal per game.

“Hopefully the goal he scored in the last game can help his confidence. He can say, ‘I’m going to score a goal’.”

City will be looking to get back to winning ways after being held to a draw by Everton on Monday.

The Cherries have lost both their league games so far but Guardiola is wary of Eddie Howe’s side.

He said: “Bournemouth can play the football they want to play. The manager is so good like that. They had a fantastic season last season.

“They started with two defeats but sometimes that can happen. It is just in the beginning. I know it will be very complicated.”

Despite spending over £200m (€215m) over the summer, City remain on the lookout for further signings before Thursday’s transfer deadline while some players surplus to requirements could leave.

It remains to be seen whether City approach West Brom again regarding defender Jonny Evans having had a previous bid rejected.

Rumours also continue to link City with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, although director of football Txiki Begiristain has publicly distanced the club from reports concerning Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe.

Guardiola said: “I’m happy with the squad I have, (but) we’re going to see. We have five or six days left, and I think the market is going to move until the last moments, and the guys here are going to leave and maybe come, because all the managers at the other clubs are (trying) in the last seconds to make the transfers cheaper.”

Asked about Messi and Mbappe at a press conference, Guardiola said: “Those players are players for Monaco and Barcelona. My dream is for one of them to stay his career in Barcelona and the other is a young talent. He will decide. Txiki was clear. I don’t have anything more to say.”

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is relishing the challenge of keeping his side in the ever-improving Premier League.

With Premier League spending in the current transfer window already at an all-time record level, Howe is anticipating their biggest fight yet.

“It gets tougher every year - the competition gets more intense and the players get better,” said Howe.

“This will be the hardest Premier League ever because it’s the most recent one.

“With the money in the Premier League now the standard of the players coming in is always improving and that makes it ever-harder for each team to compete.

“It’s a challenge we always look forward to taking on.”


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