The 23-year-old winger, who earns an estimated £180,000 a week and could command a £100 million transfer fee, is under contract at the Etihad until 2020 but City manager Pep Guardiola understands Sterling is a tempting target for rival teams.
“Maybe other clubs are interested – anything can happen – but he knows how important he is to us,” said Guardiola.
“For contracts I’m not the guy, it’s Txiki (Begiristain, City’s director of football). No doubt it’s important, the deals of the agents and the circumstances.”
Sterling had been in negotiations to extend his contract following in the path of team-mates Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who have both signed extensions in recent months.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 30, 2018
Sterling has been in superb form this season, scoring a career best 20 goals in all competitions, 10 behind top scorer Sergio Aguero, with City having all but wrapped up the Premier League title.
That form appears to have secured Sterling’s place in England manager Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, but has also alerted City’s rival European superpowers to Sterling’s qualities.
Real were interested in Sterling before he left Liverpool in 2015 and could resurrect their pursuit.
Aguero ‘so important’
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero is set to miss Saturday’s match at Everton, when City could go 19 points clear and take a huge step towards landing the title.
The Argentina international, who is recovering from a knee injury sustained three weeks ago, posted a social media picture of himself on an exercise bike just before Guardiola’s press conference on Friday.
Aguero missed Argentina’s two recent friendlies in the international break, against Italy and Spain, as well as City’s 2-0 win at Stoke City on March 12.
“He is much better. We’ll see tomorrow,” said Guardiola.
“The problem with Sergio is he is so important for us.”
With Aguero doubtful, Guardiola has given a vote of confidence to Gabriel Jesus, with the 20-year-old having scored just once in his last 15 games but hit the winner for Brazil against Germany on Tuesday.
“First of all that’s important for him to score after a long time injured – strikers need goals.”
City will be without defender John Stones, who came off during England’s 1-1 draw against Italy.
“John Stones had concussion in the last game, he feels really good but the rule is seven days off so he’s not available,” added Guardiola.
City can go within one win of securing the title with victory at Goodison Park but Guardiola is taking nothing for granted after they lost 4-0 there last season.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 30, 2018
“It’s not already done! We need two or three wins but we are in a good condition with eight games left, 16 points ahead and a healthy goal difference,” he said.
“Believe me, I am preparing for Everton like it’s the most important game we have to play.
“At home Everton are strong. I don’t like to analyse what happened last season.”
Guardiola added: “We didn’t play well there and lost 4-0. This season’s result (at home) was much better but tomorrow is another game.
“You prepare for the next games, you have to be ready. We’ve been three weeks without playing, a week in Abu Dhabi then a two-week break and I don’t know how we’ll react. I hope we will be at the same level as we have been all season.”
The England international believes he himself, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay can emulate the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers and achieve what they achieved.
“It’s all about making new history but you see the team with Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville etc and you see what they achieved and it is only right that the likes of me, Marcus and Paul try and emulate that and win trophies,” said Lingard as quoted by Mirror.
“They came through the ranks together, but my youth team went their separate ways so to have another home lad like Marcus in the team and with Paul having been here since 16, we just want to try and emulate what they did,” he added.
The 25-year old has scored eight goals in the Premier League for Jose Mourinho‘s side and also earned his place rightfully in the England team, after impressive displays at United.
“I did well on the pre-season tour but then I wasn’t playing in the first few months of the season,” Lingard said.
“It’s always hard, but within those periods you have to try and make an impact and you always have to be ready. I was patient and I knew eventually I would get my chance.
“It’s the start now. I’m comfortable in myself and my surroundings, so that makes me play stress-free and enjoy being on the ball.”
“Consistency, goals and assists – that gets you confidence and puts the thought in the manager’s head that he can’t drop you.
“Sometimes games may not go the way you plan it and sometimes you have to do the dirty, gritty stuff well – you have to tackle, you have to run.
“I learned that when I was young and it’s a good feeling to work hard for the team, to get the ball back,” says Lingard who is currently enjoying his best season at Old Trafford.
His ability to win the ball was evident in England’s 1-1 draw against Italy as he provided an assist to Jamie Vardy to open the scoring after taking a free-kick quickly, showing brilliant presence of mind.
We have to believe that we can upset the odds today against Manchester City. We have to be in a positive frame of mind and go out and challenge ourselves against a City side that is being labelled one of the best ever in the Premier League.
It’s very straightforward from an Everton standpoint really – we must aim to go and do our very best and see if that will be good enough.
There are several elements we can take genuine confidence from. Our past two games, in which we’ve managed to generate 27 attempts on goal, have kept us going in a good, positive direction. In our past 10 games at home, we’ve amassed 23 points and, since I’ve been here at the Club, we’ve conceded only six goals in eight games at Goodison, winning five, drawing two and scoring 13 goals.
In fact, from December 2 when we played Huddersfield at home, our points total home and away is the sixth best in the Premier League, five points better than Arsenal over the same period and only two points off Chelsea. We’ve built a solid platform, considering where we were, and we need to keep building.
The form of Cenk Tosun, whom we signed in the January transfer window from Turkish side Besiktas, has been particularly pleasing. He has demonstrated a steely eye for goal and clinical technique in our past three games, with eight shots, seven on target and four goals. He looks a real finisher.
Theo Walcott, whom we also signed in January, has been in excellent form, too. The quality he has added to our right-hand side is significant and he’s forged a dynamic partnership along that flank with Seamus Coleman whose return to the team has coincided with some very positive results.
— Everton (@Everton) March 30, 2018
That’s actually no coincidence because over the past three years the difference between having Seamus and – on the opposite flank – Leighton Baines in the team together and not in the team is 0.5 points. On average we’ve secured 1.7 points per game when they’re in the side and 1.2 points per game when they’re not. Their experience and guile and quality on the ball, along with the balance it gives the team, makes their contribution huge.
But it’s also the quality we produced as a team against Brighton here at Goodison prior to the recent international break and the resilience, character and sheer grim determination we had to demonstrate against Stoke at the bet365 Stadium which increases our sense that we are headed in a good, positive direction. Our build-up play against Brighton, particularly in the second half, was really encouraging and we want to replicate that through the rest of the season.
Defensively, we’ve managed to reduce our goals against column significantly in the time I’ve been here and credit to the players and to the staff who have worked hard to accomplish this. I think we are down to only 1.25 goals per game conceded whereas before it was up well beyond two goals per game.
Very pleasing, too, has been the form of our goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, whom I have no doubt is capable of being England’s No.1 at the World Cup. He has given Gareth Southgate a lot to think about, with his performance against Holland and the consistency of his performances for Everton this season. He is always there when needed. Everybody makes the odd mistake but they’ve been very few and far between where Jordan’s concerned.