Pep Guardiola says he is in no doubt that 'game changer' Riyad Mahrez can continue to prosper following his sparkling start to City’s season.
The attacking winger produced a man-of-the-match display at the London Stadium last weekend as City overwhelmed West Ham 5-0 in our opening fixture of the new Premier League season.
That bravura performance came only weeks after Mahrez had skippered Algeria to glory at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt where he also showcased his dazzling all-round ability.
And following a solid first season in Manchester where he helped City claim a historic quadruple of English trophies, Guardiola believes the 28-year-old is primed to play a key role in City’s quest for more success this term.
But, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's tea-time home clash with Tottenham, the City boss also cautioned patience given that the new campaign is only just underway.
“First of all, there is this tendency after one game, when he didn’t play as much last season, to say that now this is his season. Be calm,” urged Guardiola.
“As I said in the last press conference in London after the game against West Ham, the only reason Riyad didn’t play quite regularly last season was because of my decision.
“For players of this type of quality, as a winger, of course it is hard to find rhythm and control. Most of the time Bernardo played and he won five titles last season and he played incredibly well.
“Riyad is a smart guy, he’s intelligent, he’s a talented player. He knows what we want and he’s able to do it.
“He trains good and he can change the game.
“He’s good for our competitors, for Leroy and Bernardo, and he’s ready to take his position.”
Our impressive opening day win at West Ham was capped by a hat-trick from winger Raheem Sterling who showed he was ready to pick up from his formidable impact last season.
And quizzed as whether the England international had the potential to go on and score 30 goals in a season, the boss said he felt there was no reason why Sterling couldn’t reach that target.
“Yeah, it’s a possibility (scoring 30 goals),” Guardiola added.
“You’d have to ask him. He needs the manager to pick him and when he’s in front of the goal he needs to put the ball in the net. He can do it, yeah.
“He scored 24 goals last season so 24 to 30 is not too big. Goals are a consequence of the way we play.
“What I’m interested in is him doing what we need for the team.”