Seventeen Premier League objectives final season, three in a single sport already this time period – Raheem Sterling appears all set for one more stellar 12 months.
The Manchester Metropolis ahead had a standout marketing campaign in 2018-19, being named the Soccer Writers’ Affiliation Participant of the 12 months, the PFA Younger Participant of the 12 months and making it into the PFA Staff of the 12 months as his objectives helped his staff win the Premier League for the second successive 12 months in a treble-winning season.
He has additionally developed right into a key participant for Gareth Southgate’s England, has been lauded as “particular” by his membership supervisor Pep Guardiola and, at 24, his greatest years are nonetheless forward of him.
On BBC Radio 5 Dwell’s Monday Evening Membership, the query was requested whether or not Sterling might have a season that Lionel Messi – the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and common scorer of 30+ objectives per season – could be happy with.
On an identical profession trajectory to Messi?
Sterling scored 25 objectives in all competitions final season – his highest in a single marketing campaign – and he picked up from the place he left off by bagging a hat-trick in Metropolis’s 4-1 season-opening win at West Ham on Saturday.
At 24 years and 245 days – the age Sterling was on the level of the Hammers sport – he had performed a remarkably comparable quantity of soccer to Messi when the Argentina worldwide was the identical age.
|Sterling and Messi at 24 years and 245 days – how their stats evaluate|
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The distinction between the quantity of assists every participant had offered at that stage of their profession shouldn’t be huge – 90 for Messi in comparison with 68 for Sterling – however it’s Messi’s goalscoring prowess that units him aside.
Whereas 25 was a career-high for Sterling, Messi’s lowest whole previously 11 seasons is 38.
For Sterling to exist in such elevated firm, his numbers might want to enhance considerably.
“Raheem Sterling is getting higher,” former Arsenal striker Ian Wright advised BBC Radio 5 Dwell.
“He’s so clever in the way in which he’s enjoying with the runs he’s making, and his ending is medical.
“You possibly can simply see somebody like Raheem ending up with 35-40 objectives this season due to the way in which he’s enjoying, the possibilities Manchester Metropolis make and the way in which he’s ending.”
Can Guardiola elevate Sterling to Messi’s stage?
When Manchester Metropolis signed Sterling from Liverpool in 2015 for £49m, he turned the most costly English participant.
That price ticket got here with loads of strain for a 20-year-old and so maybe it was not stunning that Sterling was unable to make the fast affect he would have wished.
One one that by no means doubted him was Metropolis supervisor Guardiola.
In the summertime of 2016 when Sterling was enduring a tough European Championships, through which he obtained substituted at half-time for England towards Wales following a poor 45 minutes, a textual content message popped up on his telephone.
It learn: “Don’t fret, I do know you are a good participant. So long as you’re employed for me, I am going to battle for you.”
The message was from his new membership supervisor, who had recognized Sterling as a participant with the potential to grow to be one of many world’s greatest.
There are indicators that Guardiola believes he can unlock the world-class potential in an identical manner he did with Messi.
In solely his second season working with Guardiola, Sterling scored 23 objectives – greater than double what he had managed in any of his earlier six seasons in skilled soccer.
Like Sterling, Messi’s goal-scoring report earlier than enjoying beneath Guardiola was strong however not spectacular – he scored 16 occasions within the 2007-08 season.
However the next marketing campaign – Guardiola’s first as Barcelona boss – he greater than doubled that tally, scoring 38 objectives.
That enchancment coincided with Guardiola deploying Messi in a centre-forward position and he equally performed Sterling down the center in a pre-season through which Sterling hit 5 objectives in 5 video games.
“With a supervisor like Pep, there can be no resting for him,” added Wright.
“He has labored very arduous and the arrogance is flowing due to what he has been doing in coaching.
“He would now be disenchanted by scoring three objectives and lacking one as a result of that’s what he’s about now, it is all about getting the numbers up.”
‘A nightmare to play towards’
Whereas Guardiola’s teaching has undoubtedly helped enhance Sterling, simply as essential to his enchancment is the participant’s psychological energy.
The ahead has needed to endure loads of criticism in his profession to this point, from the stands and within the media, however has managed to close all that out to deal with enhancing as a participant and proving these critics mistaken.
West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere has performed alongside Sterling for England however was up towards his worldwide team-mate on Saturday.
“I assumed he was sensible [on Saturday] and he was sensible final 12 months,” mentioned Wilshere. “It reveals what sort of character he’s to return via [the 2014 World Cup] and to be probably the greatest gamers within the league final 12 months.
“He is began effectively this season. He is a nightmare to play towards. You do not know if he will come inside and he is so sharp off the mark.
“I am not completely happy he scored a hat-trick however hopefully he can do effectively this season.”