Sterling targeting Messi-esque return of 40 goals for Man City

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The England international forward admits that, if he wants to be considered among “the best”, then he needs to add even more firepower to his game

Raheem Sterling is aware that, if he wants to occupying a standing alongside “the best”, then he needs his showings for Manchester City and England to match the feats of Lionel Messi and Co.

With that in mind, the 24-year-old is setting lofty targets for the 2019-20 campaign.

Goals have been added to Sterling’s game over recent years in remarkable numbers, with a winger who once saw his end product questioned fast becoming a prolific presence.

Across the last two campaigns, the City forward has found the target 48 times and there have also been important efforts recorded for England in World Cup, Nations League and Euro 2020 campaigns.

Sterling is already up to nine goals in 11 appearances at club level this season, with the intention being to better his career-best return of 25 from 2018-19.

With the Blues star well on course to hit another personal high, he sees no reason why he should not be looking to emulate the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by surging towards the 40-goal mark.

Sterling told Radio 5 Live of his ambition: “I scored 25 goals last season and you know there is no point coming into this season to be happy to score less.

“We won the Premier League last year and every year you have got to look to do better than your last.

“This year is no different, those are the numbers (40) if you want to be regarded as the best, you have got to produce.”

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Sterling’s efforts for club and country have earned him plenty of plaudits of late.

Barcelona legend Xavi is among his many supporters, with the World Cup winner suggesting that a wideman who has already taken his game to new heights can go on to become the best player on the planet.

Xavi has told The Mirror: "Messi is the best ever for me, and even though they're both 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, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Mohamed] 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."

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