Manchester City fans are finally seeing the best of Raheem Sterling at the Etihad Stadium.
It appeared last season like Sterling could become a £49 million flop following his move from Liverpool, but four goals and five assists this season points to much improvement.
Many will refer to Pep Guardiola’s arrival as the key factor behind Sterling’s turnaround, and the City boss certainly looks to have instilled confidence in the 21-year-old.
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His goal in the Citizens’ 3-1 win at Swansea City on Saturday highlighted this. Bearing down on goal, Sterling had the option to pass to Sergio Aguero but instead chose to round the defender and score himself.
The Sterling of last year would have passed to the Argentinian.
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But perhaps we should look to Brendan Rodgers for the source of the the youngster’s renewed form.
The former Liverpool manager, who was helpless to prevent Sterling signing for City last summer, has stayed in touch with the winger.
And, noticing the player struggle last season, and for England at Euro 2016, Rodgers thought it best to send Sterling a motivational message.
Rodgers' message to Sterling
“I sent him a big message at the start of this season just to say – ‘Don't forget who you are, don't try to be something that you're not. You're a dynamic player,’” Rodgers said, per the Daily Mail.
Rodgers’ Celtic take on City in the Champions League on Wednesday, and the Northern Irishman regrets not adding something else to the end of his message to Sterling.
“I didn't know we were going to play against City or I'd have told him he'd better not perform against us!”
Now under the stewardship of the man who helped make Lionel Messi a star, Rodgers believes Sterling is in the perfect environment to fulfil his potential.
“He's back to where he was at with me and I mean that only to say that he is at that same level again,” the 43-year-old added. “He's drifted since he left Liverpool but he's now back as the player that he is.
“You can see he's being coached and he's playing to his strengths.”
Rodgers: "He's dynamic. He's fast."
Rodgers has already faced one of his former players in the Champions League, Celtic coming up against Luis Suarez in their first group game.
Suarez scored twice in a 7-0 Barcelona win. And Rodgers is fully aware that Sterling can hurt his team in an equally devastating manner.
“Raheem is a one-v-one winger who works from the outside in,” the ex-Swansea boss explained. “He's dynamic. He's fast. He's aggressive in one-v-one.
“We played him in different positions – left side, right side, No. 10. We played him through the middle. He was brilliant.”
If Sterling plays well at the Etihad tomorrow, Rodgers only has himself to blame for providing that motivating talk.
What is the biggest difference in Raheem Sterling's game this year? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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