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Pep Guardiola did something highly unusual in Raheem Sterling's contract negotiations

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Manchester City think extremely highly of Raheem Sterling judging by the contract recently agreed between the two parties.

The England international would have been free to leave the Etihad at the end of the season before he penned a three-year contract extension worth up to £300,000-a-week on Friday.

Sterling has been the target of heavy criticism over a variety of issues throughout his fledgling career, but he seems to feel City is the best place to continue rolling with the punches.

"I'm delighted to sign. My development here has been incredible," he said upon committing to the club until 2023.

"I felt from the minute I got here it was the right choice for me. It's paid off and I'm really grateful.”

Despite not being the man who brought Sterling to Manchester, Pep Guardiola has entrusted him as one of the key individuals in his luxurious squad.

His faith in the maturing winger was clear to see when he leapt to his defence regarding a controversial penalty decision during City’s 6-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk last time out.

Manchester City v FC Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League Group F

GUARDIOLA ON STERLING V SHAKHTAR

Responding to those accusing Sterling of diving when he clearly kicked the turf and lost his balance, Guardiola told a news conference: "I think this time I realised it's unfair because I don't know why you should criticise Raheem.

"It's not diving either. Tripping is a mistake, it was a bad decision of the referee.

"He's an incredible guy, he does absolutely everything on the pitch, fighting in front and he made a mistake because he's 23 years old.

"He maybe goes too fast, maybe he has to do it slower. Believe me, what the people said about this action I didn't understand.

"He will become stronger, he's stronger than when we met each other in the first year. Now, he controls these emotions much, much better.”

FBL-EUR-C1-MAN CITY-SHAKHTAR DONETSK

It’s no wonder Guardiola is eager to stand by a player who’s already chalked up seven goals and five assists in all competitions this term.

But while what he tells the media has to be taken with a grain of salt, the part he played in Sterling signing on for another three years is much more telling.

In August, it was reported that Sterling wanted the terms of his new deal to match those of City’s top earners Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.

GUARDIOLA AND STERLING'S CONTRACT

However, with the reigning Premier League champions refusing to comply, the Mirror claims Guardiola took the highly unusual step of personally intervening in negotiations.

He typically allows sporting director Txiki Begiristain to handle any transfer and contract business, but he couldn’t afford to let the stalemate drag on, such was his desire for Sterling to stay.

Few top managers have the time, let alone the patience to involve themselves in contract talks - so this instance says a lot about Guardiola’s respect for the Englishman.

Topics:
Football
Kevin De Bruyne
Pep Guardiola
Raheem Sterling
England Football
Premier League
Sergio Aguero
Manchester City

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