This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
As quoted by The Daily Mirror, Barcelona legend Xavi has revealed Raheem Sterling is “winning” the race to replace Lionel Messi as the best player in the world.
The Manchester City winger was in electric form last season, registering 25 goals and 18 assists across all competitions. His start to the current campaign has been similarly prolific, and Xavi has now suggested the England international is leading the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah to be crowned the next greatest player on the planet.
He said: “Messi is the best ever for me – and even though they’re both (Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) still playing at a very high level – there will come the day not so long away when somebody else must step into those shoes. You look at young players who can be crowned the future best in the world and you still think of Neymar, Mbappe, Salah, and of course Sterling. I look at the moment – and Sterling is winning that race.
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“He’s always been a good player, a dangerous player, but under Pep he has become one of the best in the world. I know how Pep works – he would have worked closely with him since his arrival – where he needs to improve and what he needed to work on. We’re now seeing the results of that – he’s still young and can be the world’s best.”
Over the past couple of weeks, many former players and pundits have jumped on the Sterling bandwagon and proclaimed he should consider himself amongst the best players in the world. Credibility and reputation can often be a deal-breaker when it comes to who you believe, so when Xavi, a World Cup and Champions League winner, becomes the latest to hail the 24-year-old, it may be time for people to start taking notice.
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Sterling has become such a household name over the past few years that it is easy to forget he remains only 24. The peak years of his career are undoubtedly still in front of him, and based off what he produced last season, that is a very scary prospect indeed. If he stays at the Etihad and Guardiola remains the City boss then the sky really is the limit to what the winger can go on to achieve.