Raheem Sterling claims he did not give a moment’s thought to rumours linking him with a deadline-day move from Manchester City to Arsenal.
The England international was mentioned as a potential makeweight as City stepped up efforts to bring Gunners forward Alexis Sanchez to the Etihad Stadium on the final day of the summer transfer window.
But with manager Pep Guardiola unwilling to let Sterling go, City made only cash offers – eventually up to £60million – and no deal materialised.
Sterling was asked about the matter as he carried out player media duties on Monday ahead of City’s Champions League clash with Napoli.
The 22-year-old said: “I didn’t need to speak with him (Guardiola) because I had already spoken to him during the summer about pre-season.
“I didn’t have any negative thoughts or anything bad about it. I just woke up one day with England and saw it, and I didn’t believe a word of it until I heard something from the manager, then I would believe it.
“It wasn’t something I was worried about because Pep is an honest guy, and he would have spoken to me about it before that. So I didn’t need to worry about it, and I didn’t think about it, not for one minute.”
Sterling joined City in an acrimonious £44million move from Liverpool in 2015. After a difficult first campaign he impressed under Guardiola last term and has stepped up again in the opening months of the new season and already has seven goals to his name. With City also flying high at the top of the Premier League, he has no interest in moving elsewhere.
He said: “I signed for five years here. I’ve got two-and-a-half years left, and I see myself here and playing my football here under a great manager with a great team.”
Sterling puts his continuing improvement down to the influence of Guardiola, who took a keen interest in his cause even before linking up with the player for the first time in pre-season training last year.
As Sterling was heavily criticised for his performances with England during Euro 2016, and was dropped from the side, Guardiola phoned the player to reassure him he was firmly part of his plans.
Sterling, who says he no longer looks at criticism on social media, said: “He’s been massive for me, especially with the simple stuff. He always tries to get you to do the simple stuff at the top level and that is the real genius thing about him. He makes sure you do the simple things and it works.”
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