Raheem Sterling has matured over the off-season and is performing at a higher level for Manchester City, according to manager Pep Guardiola.
The 23-year-old England international scored 23 goals in all competitions last season as City secured a domestic double, winning the Premier League and EFL Cup.
He then starred for the national team at the World Cup in Russia, playing an integral part as Gareth Southgate’s side reached a last-four finish for the first time this century, although he failed to find the net once.
Heading into Saturday's home match with Brighton and Hove Albion in the league, Sterling already has three league goals to his name this time around and Guardiola is impressed by his all-round contribution and attitude towards the team.
“I think his performances are higher. My feeling is that he's more mature than last season,” the Spaniard told reporters.
“I like it. Sometimes it's about the statistics but also how he produces it. Maybe I'm wrong but my feeling is that he believes in himself more, he is taking on more responsibility. That's good.
“Maybe the stats are wrong. But our target is to make them feel better than the previous season.”
Since arriving, he has made 102 appearances for the club in the Premier League, scoring 34 goals.
Negotiations between City and Sterling's representatives over a new deal are ongoing, with his present contract expiring in June 2020.