Rio Ferdinand admits he has been left ‘baffled’ by Raheem Sterling’s struggles at Manchester City after the forward drew another blank… and believes he has ‘lost confidence’ over being dropped by Pep Guardiola
- Raheem Sterling started in Manchester City’s goalless draw with Southampton
- The forward scored late on, only for the goal to be ruled out, and struggled again
- Rio Ferdinand has expressed confusion with how Sterling’s form has nosedived
- He says his crisis of confidence was sparked by him being dropped from the side
Rio Ferdinand has revealed his confusion with Raheem Sterling’s poor form at Manchester City, and believes the winger’s difficult spell has been triggered by him being dropped from the side.
Sterling was fielded as the centre forward for City in their goalless draw with Southampton at the weekend, but struggled to impress in another performance which raises questions over his future at the Etihad.
Speculation is mounting over a potential loan move for him in the winter transfer window, and Ferdinand has expressed sympathy with Sterling’s uncertain situation.
Rio Ferdinand has expressed his confusion at Raheem Sterling’s struggles at Manchester City
‘It’s only because he’s been taken out of the team that he’s lost confidence,’ Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five show. ‘He was on fire. He was producing.
‘This guy was the go-to guy when they needed a goal for so many years. All of a sudden, he’s in the wilderness. I’m just baffled by it; I don’t understand it.
‘But this is the thing with Pep [Guardiola], he gets it right more often than not, but with this one with Sterling… there must be clubs sitting there going, “boy, let me see how this situation pans out because I will take Sterling all day.”
Sterling started in City’s goalless draw against Southampton but struggled to make an impact
Ferdinand revealed his sympathy towards Sterling and says being dropped hurt his confidence
‘If I’m Liverpool, I’m buying Sterling tomorrow.’
Sterling is enjoying a rich vein of form on international duty with England, having emerged as one of their most important players over the past year, but his fortunes with City are a stark contrast.
He has been handed just two starts this season, and the champions have failed to hit the back of the net in both of them. Meanwhile, Jack Grealish, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez have been favoured ahead of him.
Assessing Sterling’s showing in the recent stalemate, boss Guardiola said: ‘He was so active in terms of movement, but football depends a lot on how good we do the process in build up and when it happens our strikers and wingers play better.
Sterling scored in the dying stages against Southampton but his finish was ruled out by VAR
‘And our attacking midfielders play better and today we struggled a bit and that is why he didn’t get many balls but he was always dangerous and ready to try to do it.’
Sterling’s frustrations continued to mount after he scored in the closing stages of the clash against Southampton, only for his finish to be ruled out by VAR.
He is yet to sign a new deal at City despite the club’s interest in thrashing out an extension, a stance Sportsmail has previously reported on.
The lack of fresh terms appears to have alerted some of the biggest clubs in the world, and Barcelona have reportedly made a loan swoop a priority for January.
Pep Guardiola hailed Sterling’s movement at the weekend, but was frustrated by the scoreline
Sport claimed that Sterling is even interested in making the move to the Nou Camp, a desire born out of his apparent frustration over his lack of minutes.
The same outlet added that Barcelona were working on trying to sign Sterling on a temporary basis over the summer, but their pursuit ultimately fell through.
Sportsmail also reported back in May that City were open to offers for Sterling, but Guardiola, more recently, has hailed the impact of his winger.
The front page of newspaper Sport in Spain reported that Sterling is Barcelona’s priority target
‘Do you know how many incredible successes we had in the last seasons, yeah?’ Guardiola said. ‘Impossible without Raheem. He’s such an important player.
‘But I am here to tell them. He reached an incredible high standard and I have to tell him this is the standard we need, for you, for all of us.
‘And I’m pretty sure he will get it. If he’s able to do it, he will do it. And I’m so optimistic that he will do a great season.’