Pep Guardiola says he has no concern about Raheem Sterling’s commitment to Manchester City with the forward linked with a move to Real Madrid – but he knows how much pulling power the Spanish giants have.
City’s two-year ban from the Champions League means their star players are being linked with moves away, though Sterling has been linked with Madrid in the past.
Well versed in the history of La Liga’s biggest clubs, Guardiola understands the attraction but says Sterling is a model professional.
“All the clubs have to know that when Real Madrid or Barca knock on the door the other clubs must tremble, they will be a little bit in trouble,” Guardiola told reporters.
“Barcelona and Real Madrid are maybe the strongest and most powerful teams in terms of history and how good they are. That is normal and I understand completely.
“But on the same point, you just see the commitment from Raheem, every single day when we arrives. He's never injured but he’s coming back soon.
“His commitment in every game, offensively and defensively… he's one of the best players in the world and its normal that big clubs see his desire for the team.
“I don’t know if Madrid or Barcelona have called his agent - I don’t have any doubts about his commitment from the first day to the last day that Raheem and other ones have had and will have until the end.”
Madrid will be City’s next opponents after they face Leicester in the Premier League this weekend.
Their Champions League last 16 tie has taken on added significance in the wake of City’s UEFA ban, and the delay to their 2-0 win over West Ham has disrupted Guardiola’s preparations.
“Twelve days between the last game against Spurs and West Ham, I wanted to see the rhythm for the team,” he said.
“We are not used to such a long time without games. I saw many good things against West Ham in terms of rhythm and the way we play.
“If we play well [against Leicester] we are more confident to go to Madrid to play but I’m not going to play this game thinking of Madrid.
“Winning games helps to win the next one, that is normal. It is better to go Madrid with a good performance; this performance would help us to win the game.
“But in the end, it will be a different competition. 180 minutes, it will be a different approach to what we have to do.”