The England international is currently enjoying another standout season at club level.
Sterling has 19 goals across all competitions, leaving him just four short of the personal best return he recorded last season and is helping to keep City in the hunt for a historic quadruple.
Four efforts have been plundered in his last two outings, with a hat-trick against Watford followed by one of the Blues’ seven strikes in a Champions League demolition of Schalke.
The 24-year-old is earning plenty of praise for his efforts and, despite Van Dijk starring for Premier League title rivals at Anfield, is considered to be a leading contender for prestigious individual prizes.
Former City defender Dunne told BT Sport of Sterling’s claims to the PFA award: “As fans and supporters of football you want to see players going forward, you want to see people that entertain you, score goals and certainly Sterling has done that.
“If you’re looking at attacking players I don’t think anyone has been better than Sterling with what he brings to the team with his speed and he’s using his intelligence to get into the right positions.
“From my own point of view as a defender and appreciating what Van Dijk has done for Liverpool, changing their team around in the last 18 months, I think he’s been a big asset to them and such an important player.
“In terms of the effect on a team Van Dijk has had that more than most but for entertainment, skill, technique and getting people off their seats, Sterling is ahead of him.”
To go with his 19 goals this season, Sterling has also contributed 16 assists.
He has been rewarded with a new contract through to 2023 and continues to be an important figure for club and country.
Dunne expects that standing to be cemented over the coming years, with it possible that Sterling could go on to challenge the very best in the game for the coveted Ballon d’Or.
The ex-City captain added: “What I love about him is that he keeps progressing and just gets better and better.
“Sometimes players reach a level and that’s it but you just don’t see the end with him.
“It helps to play in a team like Man City with the goals and assists he’s getting, he’s certainly a player if not this season then in future that will be challenging for Player of the Year award and maybe even further on a European and world stage.”