Raheem Sterling's form and contributions will ensure he will always be in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up, according to former Manchester City captain Richard Dunne.
Sterling has shone in recent weeks, bagging a hat-trick against Watford last Saturday which was followed up by another goal in the Champions League against Schalke on Tuesday night.
The winger has netted 15 times in the Premier League this season, putting himself firmly in the race for the Golden Boot, and Dunne believes that, despite the plethora of talent his former club have, Sterling has to be in the team every week.
“He’s an outstanding professional and Pep Guardiola understands he’s a vital part of the team," said Dunne, speaking exclusively to https://www.grandnational.org.uk/
"Sane and Mahrez might interchange but Sterling will always be on the team sheet. His assists and goal-rate support the manager’s decision to make him an integral part of the team.
“Sterling’s attitude is brilliant, he’s got amazing speed and technical ability. But this season he’s improved his finishing and his overall team play. When you’re signed for £49 million, you might think you’ve made it. But he’s improving year on year and has taken on board what the coaches have said to him."
Dunne also expressed his view that Riyad Mahrez needs time to adapt to Guardiola's style of play, comparing him to Bernardo Silva who is now one of City's key men after a shaky first season.
“Mahrez is in a transitional period at the club, much like Bernardo Silva when he joined the club from Monaco, coming with a big reputation," added Dunne.
"It takes time to adapt to the demands of playing under Guardiola, but when he gets the opportunities he performs.
“He’ll be hoping to make a similar impact to Sterling, and for Mahrez there is no better place to learn, develop and win trophies.
"Mahrez will still be at the club next year, and will be an important player in the future. But he will need to come back bigger and stronger next season.”
Since Dunne left City nearly a decade ago, the club have gone from strength to strength, winning three Premier League titles, but the former captain insists that the Champions League remains the main aim.
“Champions League success is the goal for Man City, they won the Premier League and the Carabao Cup last season. The first-leg result against Schalke showed they’ve now got the resilience to win away games in Europe in difficult situations," said Dunne.
“Sheikh Mansour wanted to make a statement and didn’t want to hang around. They’re aware winning the Champions League takes a lot longer to than winning domestic trophies. They invested in the club and changed the way people thought of Man City.
“Man City have now become a superpower in England and the Premier League, but they will want to achieve the Champions League. They look ready, and whether it’s this year or next year they’ll win the Champions League. They’ve got a good young squad and a real hunger to achieve, along with a manager with the experience of winning the Champions League.
“Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and David Silva are true professionals, but will want to win the Champions League before they think about leaving the club. Aguero seems to be getting better and better with age. It’s important that they keep these players to help the younger players, especially with the likes of Gabriel Jesus having a tough time adapting.”