Sterling has only started once in the Premier League this season since returning from his starring role with England at the summer’s European Championship and revealed this week that he would be “open” to playing abroad one day.
The 26-year-old’s current Etihad contract is set to expire at the end of the next season and, while there is a willingness on both sides to renegotiate, talks have stalled while Sterling seeks guarantees over his game time.
Sterling still wishes to play a pivotal role for City but, with the likes of Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and £100m signing Jack Grealish providing competition for a place, he is willing to consider his options if no such assurances are forthcoming.
Guardiola has regularly told players who are unhappy with his rotation policy to prove that they deserve to start through their performances on the pitch and reiterated that message to Sterling before today’s Premier League meeting with Burnley.
The City manager spoke highly of Sterling and what he has achieved since his £50m move from Liverpool in 2015, but insisted that his players will not be picked on reputation or their former glories.
“What I want as a manager is to pull out, take out the best from Raheem every single time when he plays. This is what I want. And I don’t doubt how much of an important player he has been for us – not for me, but for us. There is no doubt. The last five or six years, how many incredible minutes and important players, it was top.
“But Raheem like Jack, Ferran, [Torres], Gabriel [Jesus] and Riyad, they know exactly who they are competing against, every game, so and we can’t say that Phil is a bad player, [Sterling] is a bad player, Jack is a bad player, Riyad is a bad player.
“The only way to get [more minutes] is: what can I do better? To play regularly and after when he is not satisfied or any of these players, it is so simple: with their agents, go to the club and say I am not happy I want to leave and we are going to find a solution.”