Manager Manuel Pellegrini says record signing Raheem Sterling will benefit from playing with the technical players in Manchester City’s squad this English Premier League season.
Sterling gave a glimpse of what he can bring to the 2014 EPL champions with his searing pace and link play with Spanish star David Silva in the penalty shootout win over Italy’s AS Roma in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Sterling, the most expensive English footballer in history, took just two minutes and 17 seconds to open his account for the big-spending English club in the International Champions Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was the 20-year-old Jamaica-born Londoner’s first game for Manchester City since his move from Liverpool last week in a five-year deal worth an initial A?44 million that could rise to A?49 million ($76 million).
Sterling played only the first half but in that time he showed Pellegrini why he will be an excellent acquisition for his all-star squad when the new season kicks off next month.
“It’s important to score, particularly early in the game, and he just played 45 minutes after having just a few days working with the team,” Pellegrini said after Tuesday’s match.
“I’m happy with the way he played. He demonstrated why he’s here, not only his value as a player, he’s a very young player so I think he will improve a lot in the future, playing with Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
“I’m very happy with him and I’m very happy that we’ve bought him.”
Pellegrini was particularly impressed with Sterling’s instinctive link-up play with Spanish international midfielder Silva and how he injected extra pace into the City attack.
“Always good players link immediately when they know how to play. We bought him as a young player with a very good future.”
“Good players link immediately (with others) when they know how to play. David is a very good player, he makes good movements,” he said.
“I think at the moment we have a complete midfield with very technical players and I think he (Sterling) will benefit from that so I am very happy with the future we are going to have with the team.
“He has the speed that we didn’t have so he will be another different way of playing.
“I am sure he is the player that we need in our team, that’s the reason why we bought him.”
Sterling showed his explosive pace to swoop on a defence-splitting pass from Kelechi Iheanacho, leaving Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis flailing as he slotted the ball into the empty net.
Nigerian teenager Iheanacho put City ahead again on 51 minutes when he zeroed in on an awful back pass by former England international Ashley Cole to coolly beat De Sanctis from close range.
Roma equalised with an exquisite free-kick from Serbian Adem Ljajic in the final minutes of normal time before England goalkeeper Joe Hart saved penalties from Seydou Doumbia and Seydou Keita in the shootout to get the English club home.
Manchester City will attempt to go on and win the three-way ICC tournament when they take on ten-time European champions Real Madrid in the final match at the MCG on Friday.