Sterling: I was happy for Champions League-winning Liverpool but Premier League is more important for Man City

Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2018-19Getty Images

Raheem Sterling says he was happy to see former club Liverpool win the Champions League last season, but maintains winning the Premier League again is his main priority this season.

Having pipped Liverpool by a single point last year, Sterling and Manchester City are looking for a third consecutive league title under Pep Guardiola.

If they succeed, they would be the first team to complete a hat-trick of titles since Manchester United between 2007 and 2009, with United having managed the feat twice in the Premier League era.

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Sterling is frequently targeted by Liverpool fans when he returns to Anfield, but he has never made a secret of his enduring affection for the club.

“I was really happy for Liverpool, happy for some of the players I know to lift the Champions League,” he said.

“What we've done last season - every day, week in, week out - was exceptional. The Champions League is massive for us as a club but our most important thing is winning the Premier League. That's our main objective going into this season.

Mohamed Salah Champions League 2018-19 Liverpool

“The Premier League is your bread and butter. The Champions League is the nicer-looking one, the most prestigious as people say, but every weekend you put in a shift. You're going to tough places… you're off to Crystal Palace, Burnley, it's tough, you know. You put so much time into it. That's why we cherish it.

“It'll be harder than last season. To do this three times in a row is a massive challenge for us.

“Liverpool, all these big clubs, will try to take titles off us. But there isn't any player here who thinks they're at their best. There are no egos in our changing room, no player who thinks he's Pele or Maradona.”

On a personal level, 25 goals and 18 assists in all competitions represented the most productive season of his career but with the likes of Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez vying for his position, Sterling cannot afford to rest on his laurels.

Bernardo Silva Raheem Sterling FA Cup final 2019

That was a point underlined after last season’s FA Cup final. City beat Watford 6-0 with Sterling scoring twice, but he was taken to one side after the game with Guardiola clearly seeing room for improvement.

“I don't know how to explain it… you see clips of him talking to you but it's not like that every day!” he said.

“It's one incident where he's speaking to me. He talks to us as a group. You learn. If you don't learn, you don't play.

“It's not like he's sat there in a room with a pen and paper writing things down on what I should do.

“People will be judging me from now on, so every season I have to get better. If you don't want to improve yourself then there is nothing Pep can do to help.

“He sets such high standards and it rubs off. That has improved me the most: the standards he sets. It makes sure I don't fall from mine.”