Former England international Trevor Sinclair believes Manchester City ace Raheem Sterling is on a par with Barcelona and Juventus superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sinclair joined talkSPORT earlier this week to heap praise on the forward after he scored twice for England over the recent international break, saying he is an invaluable part of Pep Guardiola’s Man City squad,
Raheem Sterling on same level as Messi and Ronaldo, says Trevor Sinclair
“Raheem Sterling is right at the top of the tree,” said Sinclair. “If he’s not worth £200million now, I’d be surprised.
“He’s the best player playing for England and he’s the first player on the team sheet for Pep Guardiola.
“The big question now is where do you put him with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo? I would put him right amongst them. He’s there now.”
But does Sterling deserve to be rated alongside the two legends of the game, who for over a decade have played at an elite level perhaps never seen before in the world of football?
The England forward has been in sensational form for Man City over the past few years, coinciding with Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad.
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Since the start of the 2016/17 season, when Guardiola was appointed City manager, Sterling has scored 64 goals in all competitions, adding a further 55 assists. This means Sterling is providing a direct goal contribution ever 1.25 matches – a stunning ratio for a player who was criticised in his early career for supposedly lacking an end product.
While Sterling is a fantastic player, Sinclair’s bold claim was that he is up there with Ronaldo and Messi, two of the world’s best players.
Last season, Messi scored 36 goals and assisted a further 13 in 34 LaLiga games. The Argentine managed a remarkable 1.44 goal contributions per game during this campaign, leaving Sterling’s excellent 0.79 contributions per game paling in comparison. In all competitions, Messi scored 51 goals, in 50 appearances.
On the other hand, Ronaldo had a fairly poor debut season with Juventus compared to his usual elite standards.
Nonetheless, his numbers are still better than most other players, scoring 21 times and adding eight assists in 31 Serie A games. He also netted another seven times in cup competitions.
Ronaldo’s 0.94 goal contributions per game means he also, like Messi, fared better than Sterling last term apropos his impact in the final third.
Not too shabby from a bloke who turns 35 later this season.
Sterling vs Ronaldo and Messi since start of 2018/19 season
Raheem Sterling – 56 appearances, 31 goals (in all competitions)
Lionel Messi – 50 appearances, 51 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo – 45 appearances, 29 goals
Turning back the clock to evaluate a 24-year-old Ronaldo also makes for stunning reading, as he is so far ahead of Sterling, who enjoyed his 24th birthday last December.
During the 2009/10 season, the Portugal winger scored a staggering 33 goals in 35 games for Real Madrid, also registering 12 assists for a remarkable 1.29 goal contributions per game.
All things considered, Ronaldo and Messi are not only two of the best players in the world right now, but also two of the greatest players to ever step onto a football pitch.
To claim Sterling is not at their elite level is not a knock on the Englishman, but just further proof that Messi and Ronaldo are once in a generation talents.
Sterling is undeniably a supremely talented player, and his five goals in four games so far this season prove he is set for another impressive campaign.
He will be hoping his goals lead City to their third consecutive Premier League title, to further fill his trophy cabinet and stake a serious claim for future Ballon d’Or success.
However, Sinclair may have been looking through slightly rose-tinted glasses when placing Sterling on the same level as two of the greatest to ever play the game.
Sterling, Ronaldo and Messi’s careers so far
Club appearances: 325
Club goals: 98
International appearances (England): 53
International goals: 10
Club appearances: 687
Club goals: 603
International appearances: 136
International goals (Argentina): 68
Club appearances: 808
Club goals: 602
International appearances: 160
International goals (Portugal): 93