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Pep Guardiola addresses Raheem Sterling ‘rift’ rumours ahead of Man City Champions League clash

Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City gives instructions to their side during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at Etihad Stadium on January 17, 2021 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Image source: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling is in Budapest with the Manchester City squad after manager Pep Guardiola dismissed notions of a rift with the England star. The Blues flyer was left out of the squad for the 3-0 win at Fulham. That prompted social media rumours that there had been a fall-out between the player and manager.

However, Sterling said: “Some crazy rumours on socials today… that’s absolutely FALSE. Looking forward to a big week with the team. Have a good night lads.”

Guardiola followed that up at his press conference before the squad’s departure for their Champions League last 16-second leg against Borussia Monchengladbach, in which the Blues lead 2-0 from the first leg.

Said Guardiola: “He travels with the team for tomorrow of course. All the squad travel to Budapest. Raheem and all the players always train and react very well. I don’t expect the guys who are not selected are happy. It is normal.

“It has happened since football was created. Raheem in this case has been so important and is so important. All the players respect my decisions. I never found in my career one player who was happy when they don’t play, but they react and behave really well.”

Guardiola also said there was no need for Sterling to put ut a statement yesterday, as there was no issue.

He doesn’t need to do it – nothing happened,” he said. “He was not selected, that’s all. Sometimes during the season, for example when we travelled to Stamford Bridge, we had 14 first team players and then it is easy to make the selection and everybody is happy.

“When you have 20 top-class players who have had incredible success, it will always be unfair on them. That is the point. I now have 20 players, I trust them, I love them, they are the main reason why we are in the position where we are in the Premier League and Champions League and Carabao Cup and FA Cup. They are the reason why. I understand completely why they don’t play.”

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