2021 wasn’t a great year for Man City forward Raheem Sterling.
The former Liverpool player began the year as a regular in Pep Guardiola’s side but towards the end of last season found himself on the bench more times than not.
As the club edged in on their first Champions League final, Sterling found himself on the outside looking in. He was dropped from the round-of-16 clash with Borussia Monchengladbach right through to the semi-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
He was then recalled for the final against Chelsea but failed to sparkle. At Euro 2020, Sterling openly discussed being unhappy with his situation with City.
“It is just happiness, just being happy, enjoying my football and that is what I am doing being here with the national team,” he said.
“If you’re not playing, you’re not happy. That’s me, that’s been me since I was a kid, if I’m playing football I am really happy, if I’m not I’m not happy.”
Last season, Sterling was arguably the biggest loser in the rise of Phil Foden.
This season has been very different, however. After a slow start, Sterling has really kicked into gear from mid-November on and he played an instrumental role in the victory against Brentford in the club’s last Premier League outing.
Riyad Mahrez is another City player who is having a renaissance this season.
Mahrez, like Sterling, endured a difficult season under Guardiola but similarly returned to form in the second half of 2020/21.
This season, the Algerian has been in stunning form for City and has already posted his best season for goals since arriving in the summer of 2018. Mahrez scored the penalty that Sterling won, and it was his 16th goal of the season in all competitions.
Both players have contracts expiring in 16 months’ time, so should they remain at the club?
in the MEN’s latest Facebook Live, City Is Ours team members Alex Brotherton and Amos Murphy deliberate on the future of both players and considered the presence of Fernandinho as a potential contract precedent for City’s talks with Mahrez as a player still flourishing well into his mid-thirties with the club.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.
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AB: “It will be interesting to see how things go with the contract situation I think. Sterling is definitely one that City will want to extend but there might be questions about whether that’s what he wants or not.
“Mahrez might be the opposite of that. As important as he is, he’s well out in front of goals and assists in all competitions for City this season, he is the wrong side of 30 now and, okay, you get the odd player that will sort of go into the mid-30s for City and perform at a high level, with Fernandinho being one of them.
“But with lots of young attackers coming through, it’ll be interesting to see what the club does there.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.