Guardiola tells outcast to prove he is ‘extraordinary’

Pep Guardiola has urged the “extraordinary” Raheem Sterling to seize his next opportunity to impress.

The England forward has started just three of Manchester City’s last 10 matches as they chase silverware on multiple fronts.

Manager Guardiola insists the 26-year-old has not fallen out of favour at the Etihad Stadium but other players are simply in better form.

With City still in contention for three trophies and Euro 2020 also approaching, Guardiola feels there is plenty of time left for Sterling to shine this season despite the concerns.

Guardiola said: “Raheem is an extraordinary player – he was, is and will be.

“The reason why he has not played as regularly as in previous seasons is because Phil (Foden) and Riyad (Mahrez) are in top top form. That is the only reason.

“But opportunities are going to come and he has to be ready to show his quality, freshness in his mind and to play with the incredible strength he has.

“What happens with the international manager, I’m not involved, (but) I want the incredible players I have here to go in their national teams, absolutely. Him, Nathan (Ake), Eric (Garcia), John (Stones) – all the players who are here. It is a fantastic event to play in, the Euros.

“The quality is there and it is not a conversation where he doesn’t have confidence. After talking with me, he has confidence.

“Top-class players have to take the confidence for themselves to say, ‘I’m going to show what I am’. It’s the only secret.”

Manchester City face Tottenham in the final of the Carabao Cup on Sunday and Guardiola has reiterated the importance of a trophy he and the club have already won for three consecutive seasons.

“When we lost against Chelsea [in the FA Cup semi-final] I was asked whether I didn’t care about the competition and that offends me a lot,” he said.

“Something we showed in these five years together is that every game we play to win the game.”

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