Raheem Sterling still has plenty of improvement to come, according to Fabian Delph – and his Manchester City and England team-mate will not be shy in letting him know about it.
Sterling was a standout performer as Pep Guardiola’s side won an unprecedented domestic treble this season, scooping the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award.
A brace in the 6-0 FA Cup demolition of Watford took the 24-year-old to 25 goals in all competitions for his club in 2018-19, a campaign where he also emphatically turned a corner at international level.
Despite his best efforts, Sterling’s England goal drought remained stubbornly intact throughout the run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
He has since scored six times in five starts for the Three Lions, including a Wembley hat-trick in a 5-0 Euro 2020 qualification thrashing of the Czech Republic.
As doubts over Harry Kane’s match fitness persist, Sterling indisputably approaches what will be his 50th England cap in Thursday’s Nations League Finals encounter against Netherlands in Guimaraes as Gareth Southgate’s most important and potent attacking threat.
“When we both signed he was 19 and he looked like a little baby,” said Delph, who joined City from Aston Villa during the same 2015 close-season when Sterling secured his exit from Liverpool.
“People always questioned what type of player he’d be and whether he’d go to the next level, but I was like, ‘This kid has everything. Once he finds his path and what works for him you’re going to see something incredible’.
“I think the sky’s the limit. Right now, he’s one of the best players in the world. And while I’m still with him, or while I’m still in contact with him, I’m going to be pushing him daily because I know he’s got another 20 per cent in him.”