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Barcelona legend Xavi believes Raheem Sterling is winning race to replace Messi and Ronaldo at the top

Raheem Sterling Manchester City

Sterling has become a talismanic player for Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, scoring 25 goals in their 2018/19 title-winning season, and adding six more so far this term.

Guardiola has recently admitted that his player is not yet on the level of Messi and Ronaldo, but his ex-pupil Xavi believes that the England midfielder can scale similar heights.

"Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the best player in the world awards for so many years now, it’s hard to remember a time before them," said Xavi, now retired.

"Messi is the best ever for me - and even though they’re both still playing at a very high level, there will come the day not so long away when somebody else must step into those shoes.

"You look at young players who can be crowned the future best in the world and you still think of Neymar, Mbappe, Salah, and of course Sterling. I look at the moment - and Sterling is winning that race."

Xavi's own experience under Guardiola at Barcelona makes him confident that his former coach can help take Sterling to the very top.

"He’s always been a good player, a dangerous player, but under Pep he become one of the best in the world.

"I know how Pep works - he would have worked closely with him since his arrival - where he needs to improve and what he needed to work on.

"We’re now seeing the results of that - he’s still young and can be the world’s best."

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