England manager Gareth Southgate has backed Raheem Sterling to win the Premier League Player of the Year award this season.
Sterling, who is aiming to win a second successive league title with Manchester City, has been one of the standout players in the English top flight this season.
Is Sterling a Player of the Year contender? Five key things to know…
- Sterling has been faced with the difficult task of matching his numbers from last season, when he scored 18 goals and provided 13 assists in 33 league games.
- This term, he has 12 goals and 11 assists in 26 league appearances so far.
- The PFA Players’ Player of the Year award has gone to a title winner in three of the last four seasons.
- But prior to that, it went to a non-title winner for four consecutive campaigns.
- Sterling has scored 15 goals and provided 15 assists across all competitions this season.
The 24-year-old has become a regular for England under Southgate’s management, helping the Three Lions to reach the Uefa Nations League semi-finals this summer.
And Southgate, who has coached Sterling at Under-21 and senior level, thinks the former Liverpool winger is having another “phenomenal” season for club and country.
“The thing that stands out with Raheem is his tenacity,” Southgate told talkSPORT. “His recovery from setbacks and his resilience and proving people wrong – he’s always responding in the right way to those challenges.
“It’s incredible. He’s gone to a big club [Liverpool] when he was very young and dealt with that.
“Another big move to City, adapted to that. They sign new players every summer and you’d think his place was under threat, but he’s come through that. I think he’s had a phenomenal season.
“He’s got to be one of the candidates for player of the year.”
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Who could challenge Sterling for Player of the Year?
If Pep Guardiola’s side remain in the title race until the end of the season – a likely scenario – a City player has a good chance of being named Player of the Year.
Sterling will certainly be a contender, but his path to the award could be blocked by teammate Sergio Aguero.
The Argentinian has scored 18 goals in 25 Premier League appearances so far this term and is expected to add to that tally.
Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk will be hoping to be in the conversation, particularly if Liverpool win the league.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will also be aiming to score consistently from now until the end of the campaign, which could boost their chances of challenging for the award.