Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola suggested Raheem Sterling should “make a phonecall” and ask for a transfer request if he is unhappy with his boss’ team selections.
After a stellar Euro 2020 campaign, Sterling has come back down to earth with a bang at club level. The Manchester City winger has completed a full 90 minutes just once in the Premier League this term. He also featured for just three minutes during the recent 1-0 victory over Chelsea.
That led to Sterling recently outlining his career concerns in the Guardian. He claimed he would be “open” to moving elsewhere if it meant more guaranteed gametime.
Now, speaking in his Friday press conference (via the Manchester Evening News), Guardiola spoke at length about Sterling’s situation. In doing so, he hinted several times that Sterling should seek a move away if he is unhappy with Pep’s management of the club.
“I didn’t know it. I didn’t think the club knew,” said Guardiola. “Raheem is our player, hopefully he will be an incredibly important player for us. I don’t know if he wants to play more.
“Like Riyad doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain, Joao when he doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain. I cannot assure them, they know it, I cannot assure how many minutes each one plays.
“Always they have to speak on the pitch. That is the best moment. Not Raheem, all of them. They know they are going to play minutes, I’m not a guy who only plays 11 players, all of them are involved.
“What I want from Raheem and everyone is they have to be satisfied to be here and delighted to be in this club. If that’s not the case he has to take the best decision for his family, for all the people who love them. They have to be happy.
“More gametime I understand completely, I was a player, all the time I wanted to play. Not just Raheem but all of them want to play every game but I cannot assure them. They have to improve every training session and be there on the pitch and be happy there.”
When asked if he’s confident Sterling will say, the Spaniard replied: “I’m not involved in contract. The club decides.”
Guardiola was then asked how he reacted when dropped during his playing career.
“When this happens, football is to understand when you don’t play it’s the reason why I have to be better, to fight more,” he added.
“Understand why the other was better, accept and move forward. When the manager selects another player, understand because he has other thoughts and I have to work harder. Always I was so respectful for the other ones. Others maybe didn’t understand.
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“John [Stones] always played good, helped the team. There are players who suffer more. It happens here and all over the world. You have to fight and in the end is a transfer window and then you have to decide. I don’t want to see players unhappy or upset.
“Here is not the end of the world, there are many teams and managers and you can do whatever you want. We don’t push barriers. Just make a phonecall to the club and sort the situation.
“Not just for Raheem, for all the players. I said many times. You have to be there and fight and be good every day.
“After in the transfer windows you decide, when it’s finished, you have to accept my decisions, I’m the manager, I decide what’s best for the team.
“I don’t make decisions for the player. I’m thinking the best for the team to win games, to make happy the fans, the organisation. Be proud of what you do. It’s the only situation.”
Guardiola continues Sterling rant
Talk of Sterling dominated Guardiola’s press conference. On the subject of refusing to give certain players preferential treatment, Guardiola added: “Raheem played the Champions League final, he’s so important.
“But I have to treat Cole Palmer the same as Kevin De Bruyne. Why should I treat Kevin De Bruyne differently than Cole Palmer.
“Both have parents, maybe one has girlfriends or wives or kids because one is so young, or friends. I treat the same the cooker and the team manager.
“Why should I treat differently, there’s no reason. What you have done, you have benefits. Today I have to treat the same.
“Why I treat differently an academy player to Jack Grealish? When I pick Jack it’s because it’s the best team to win the game. They believe it’s personal. But I take the decision because I think it’s the best for tomorrow to play.
“In my career important players don’t play, I consider in that moment one player is more important for what I need. When it’s going well everything is happy. When it’s not, it’s just me so I take the decisions for the best for the club, not for the players.”