Raheem Sterling needs to raise his game even further to match the best players in the world and must train even harder to do so, says Gary Neville.
The England international forward has been integral in Manchester City’s title-winning campaign, contributing 17 goals and 12 assists as Pep Guardiola‘s side secured the Premier League with five games to spare.
However Sterling has been accused of being wasteful on occasion, such as in the 3-2 defeat at home by Manchester United, where he missed several chances to win City the game – and the championship.
Neville said Sterling has the potential to match other greats who have moved from playing on the wing to a more central role, such as Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo – but only if he improves his finishing.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: ‘Sterling will always be in there, putting himself where it hurts but Guardiola is right – he needs to do better in front of goal.
‘His ability to make the right decision has let him down, the best players have time in the box. Ronaldo and Henry were the best wide players to move centrally. You look at those types of players and what they went on to become.
‘Guardiola has challenged Sterling to become one of the best in the world. City need to progress but Sterling cannot think this is the end. He’s had his best season with goals and assists but there is another level.’
In order to reach that level, Sterling must put in the hours on the training ground – but even then he might still not be as good as the best in the world, the former Manchester United defender claims.
Neville said: ‘The hours of repetition of practising to kick a ball, could he whip a ball into the six yard box every time? Ronaldo couldn’t do it, it was hours of practice day after day. Because you do it that many time you get better.
‘Can he get to Ronaldo, Henry levels? That’s debatable, but to get to that level he needs to improve and lift his practice. He can get to 25 goals a season but can he get to 30, I’m not so sure.
‘Sterling needs to make sure in every training session he does it properly every single time, not trying to dink the keeper when it’s not on. Then he can do it in the big games when he goes through one-on-one. There is a jump to make and that comes with doing it every single day.’