Raheem Sterling in contention for 2018/19 Player of the Year award: Should he win it?
We put Raheem Sterling under the microscrope as we continue our look at the PFA Player of the Year contenders
Last Updated: 20/03/19 6:44pm
Raheem Sterling is among the Sky Bet favourites for the PFA Player of the Year award. Here, we assess his chances of winning the prize.
Why does he deserve it?
Sterling is enjoying another stunning season under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. With 15 goals in 27 Premier League appearances, he is among the top scorers in the division and only needs three more to match his tally for the whole of the last campaign.
The England international's scoring exploits have made him one of the first names on Guardiola's team sheet, but he has also contributed nine assists. It is the joint-most at City and further underlines just how important he is to their attack.
Sterling's performances are even more impressive when you consider what he has had to put up with this season. He was the victim of racist abuse during City's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, but his response both on and off the pitch could hardly have been more impressive.
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What do the stats say?
With his 15 goals and nine assists, Sterling is joint-top among Premier League players for goal involvements this season. The only other players on the same level are City team-mate Sergio Aguero, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Chelsea's Eden Hazard.
A deeper look at the numbers underlines his effectiveness even further. Sterling ranks among the top five Premier League players this season for successful dribbles (68), chances created from open play (55) and touches in the opposition box (236). He has even become more efficient in possession, with a passing accuracy of 86.1 per cent his highest in four seasons at City.
What does his manager say?
Guardiola demands a lot from Sterling, always balancing praise with the message that he can improve even further. He does, however, acknowledge the fact that Sterling has already come a long way since his appointment at the Etihad Stadium in 2016.
"The first season, he was scared," said Guardiola earlier this season. "He was looking, who is the guy I am going to pass the ball to? We spoke about that and said: 'Try to score goals. Now you have the feeling, where is the goal and go over there.'
"I have the feeling he is now enjoying scoring goals and making assists. He is becoming a winning player. He is stable and is focused on what he has to do to become a better player.
"He is more mature now than he was when we first met at the club. He believes more in himself. Hopefully he can be more ambitious and think he can improve. He is 23 and he can be a better player."
What's the pundit verdict?
"There are aspects of his game that he could improve - such as his finishing technique - but he is setting the standard for wide players in the Premier League," said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.
"Any young winger should watch how he plays. Callum Hudson-Odoi is a brilliant talent but when I have seen him for Chelsea, too often he wants the ball to feet. It is far harder for a full back to deal with a run in behind.
"The way Sterling is playing is like watching Mo Salah last season on his way to winning Player of the Year. When it comes to this award, timing is everything.
"If I had to vote now, I would still go with Virgil van Dijk. But if Sterling keeps up this form and scores the goals that propel City to the title, he has to be a strong contender."