Guardiola wants to keep ‘special’ Sterling

Pep Guardiola has reiterated his desire for Manchester City to resolve Raheem Sterling’s contract talks following the forward’s starring role in the defeat of Unai Emery’s Arsenal side on Sunday.

Sterling, who scored 18 goals during the Citizen’s Premier League-winning season last term, opened his account for 2018/19 with a stunning first goal as City ran out 2-0 winners at the Emirates in the first game of their title defence.

Talks about a new deal for the England international started before the World Cup, but were put on hold.

The 23-year old is reported to be looking to almost double his £170,000-a-week contract that expires in 2020, while Guardiola has made it clear that he wants to keep Sterling.

“For the record, I’m not a sports director, not even a manager. I’m a trainer,” said Guardiola after the Arsenal game. “I try to make a good team spirit in the locker room and win games. But we are delighted with him and would like Raheem to stay. We’ll do our effort to make him feel we count on him. And we do count on him.

“We arrived after a difficult season [in 2016, when Guardiola had made a point of contacting Sterling during Euro 2016 to offer his support] and I told him I wanted 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.

Guardiola then went on to praise Sterling, making reference to his performances for England at the World Cup.

“People only judge players on the goals they score at the World Cup, but Raheem has this special relation with English football, he’s so loved in the locker room.

“He did some very good things in the World Cup, moving well and creating space for others. He’d liked to have scored a goal and he tried to, but I’m sure in the European qualifiers he will score goals for his country.

“He trained just one week but we needed him today, and he did so well except when he was very tired at the end. His mum and dad gave him a special body shape: he’s small, tiny, so these kind of guys in one week are ready.”