Raheem Sterling is this season’s leading light in the Premier League, according to Manchester City hero Paul Dickov.
The 24-year-old England winger has undoubtedly been one of the stars of the current campaign, having scored 17 goals in the Premier League, including a fine brace against Crystal Palace last weekend to keep City breathing down the necks of title rivals Liverpool.
As well as having produced a series of scintillating showings in a City shirt this term, Sterling has also registered nine assists in the league and looks set to surpass the 30-goal mark in all competitions.
But he is still likely to face fierce competition for the PFA Player of the Year gong, with Liverpool’s central defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk also heavily tipped.
But former Dickov would give Sterling the nod above all others.
“I’m clamouring for it. The hard work that he’s put in to his game; he’s been a shining light for any young footballer that wants to better themselves,” Dickov told Love Sport Radio during his campaign calling on Manchester City fans to aid his #FindMyShirt mission, two decades on from arguably the biggest moment of his career against Gillingham at Wembley.
“To have over 20 goals already this season from playing out wide; there’s the assists and his all-round game, and people forget how hard he works as well.
“The difference in him as a player over the last few years has been phenomenal, and he has to take all of the credit of that.
“I think he’s been a victim of his own success.
“People forget how young he was when he came onto the scene at Liverpool. He was still a young boy – in footballing terms – when he came to the club and with wingers of any age, you do get inconsistencies.
"Wingers don’t always perform to the top level every single week. Raheem has shown, with a lot of hard work and ability, where he can get to, and I still think he can get better.
“Van Dijk’s been fantastic all season and you could also put [Sadio] Mane in there – but then you could look at [Sergio] Aguero and Bernardo Silva, so the competition’s going to be fantastic.”
Dickov has teamed up with his old club and Marathonbet, the Official Global Betting Partner of Manchester City, as part of the #FindMyShirt campaign, which aims to track down his jersey from the 1998-99 Second Division play-off final.
His last-gasp equaliser against Gillingham at Wembley helped set City on the path to becoming the Premier League juggernaut they are today but Dickov believes that Pep Guardiola’s side could scale even greater heights in coming seasons.
“I say to people all the time to just look at the age of the squad,” Dickov added.
“Look at Ederson, John Stones, [Benjamin] Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Raheem [Sterling], [Leroy] Sane, [Gabriel] Jesus – they’re all under the age of 25 and some of them are a bit younger than that, so they’re only going to get better and better.
“For the next five or six years, the foundations are there for a lot more success.
“If you look at the club 20 years ago and where it is now, the owners and everybody involved with the club deserve a lot of credit.
“It’s very easy for people to talk about the money side of it and what they’ve spent and everything else, but to have won three Premier League titles in 10 years; it takes some teams 30 years to be able to be able to do that, so it just shows the hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes.
“I’m lucky to represent the club in various ways – whether that’s fan events or partner events – and it never ceases to amaze me how big the club’s getting, and how much hard work there is going on behind the scenes to make the club what it is today.”
#FindMyShirt is a campaign from Marathonbet, the official global betting partner of Manchester City, to help reunite striker Paul Dickov with his 1998/99 play-off final shirt. Visit @Marathonbet on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and follow the link to leave details of the shirt’s whereabouts.