Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola surprised Raheem Sterling has considered leaving

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling and manager Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has expressed his surprise that Raheem Sterling would consider leaving Manchester City in search of regular playing time elsewhere.

Sterling admitted that he would be “open” to leaving the Etihad having found himself out of favour under Guardiola since the second half of last season.

The 26-year-old City contract is set to expire at the end of next season and negotiations over a renewal have stalled, with Sterling seeking guarantees over his game time.

“I didn’t know [he had considered leaving], I think the club didn’t know it either” Guardiola said, when asked about Sterling’s remarks.

“Raheem is our player, hopefuly he’ll be incredibly important player for us. I don’t know if he’ll play more.”

Guardiola argued that if Sterling wants to play more minutes, he has to prove he deserves a regular place with his perofmance on the pitch.

“Riyad [Mahrez] and Joao [Cancelo] want to play all the same but don’t complain,” the Catalan added.

“I cannot assure them, I cannot say how many minutes they will play. They have to speak on the grass, that’s the best moment all of them.

“They’ll all play minutes, I don’t play 11 players and that’s all. What I want is for them to be happy, satisfied, delighted. If not they are free to take decisions that are best for them.

“They have to be happy. I understand him wanting more time. I’m not an exception. All of them want to play 90 minutes and I cannot assure them. They have to improve in training and try to be on the pitch.”

When asked whether he was confident that Sterling will stay, Guardiola said: “I’m not involved in the contracts, the club decide that.”

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