Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that he is not bothered by media reports linking England international Raheem Sterling to Real Madrid.
Guardiola made this known on Friday while reacting to a recent interview Sterling granted Spanish media outlet AS during the week. The Spaniard added that he has no problem Sterling discussing the possibility of a move to Los Blancos next summer.
Sterling has been impressive for the most part of this season, breaking the 20-goal barrier in a third successive season. The 25-year-old superb performance has also attracted interest from Madrid, who are reported to be plotting a £180million swoop for the winger following City’s two-year ban from European competition.
During the interview, the City winger said that he could end up playing for Madrid in the future, adding that anything is possible. He also described Real as a ‘fantastic club’ insisting that he is happy and fully committed to the Citizens.
The England international also commended Madrid manager Zidane Zidane for winning the Champions League and developing talents at the Spanish club.
However, Guardiola said his players were “free to say what they think. We’re not here to tell them what they have to say”. He added that clubs lesser than Real Madrid and Barcelona must “tremble” when the two Spanish clubs come asking about their players.
“All the clubs have to know that when Real Madrid or Barcelona knock on the door, the other clubs must tremble,” said Guardiola. “That they will be a little bit in trouble.
“Barcelona and Real are maybe the strongest and most powerful teams in terms of history and how good they are. That’s normal and I understand completely.
“But, on the same point, you see the commitment from Raheem, every single day when he arrives.
“His commitment in every game, offensively and defensively, so he’s one of the best players in the world and it’s normal that big clubs see his desire.
“I don’t know if Madrid or Barcelona call his agent, but I don’t have any doubts about his commitment from the first day to the last day that Raheem and other ones have had – and will have – until the end.”
Guardiola claims “nobody has helped us outside” as the club come to terms with the possibility of a two-year exile from European competition. City were banned and fined 30m euros (£25m) last week for “serious breaches” of Uefa’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations.
They have confirmed they will contest the European governing body’s decision.
“I repeat, it’s not finished,” Guardiola told BBC Sport. “It’s not over, we appeal and see what happens.”
Guardiola confirmed after Wednesday’s Premier League victory against West Ham that he would remain at the club regardless of the outcome of the appeal and that the “truth will prevail”.
Asked on Friday whether a two-year ban for breaching financial fair play regulations would in some way colour judgement of his time at the club, he said: “I cannot change that. I know how hard we work and I’m so proud of what we’ve done these years together.
“I have a different opinion, nobody has helped us outside, we did an incredible job day by day, game by game and nothing will change the opinion.”