Pep Guardiola believes Raheem Sterling has the attributes required to be successful as a centre-forward.
The 24-year-old hit a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory over West Ham, which indicated he is ready to return to the goal scoring form which saw him net 25 times last season.
Sterling started on the left of a front three at the London Stadium, with Gabriel Jesus playing through the middle, but Guardiola, who deployed the England international in a central role in the Community Shield, feels his No.7 can shine in that position.
“Since we started this season in China and the Community Shield he has scored one goal minimum every game.
“On the first day he played striker and for me striker will be an incredible position for him. He can play in three positions up front.
“They are incredibly talented players but they need the group, they need the team. When the team takes a step forward he plays better.
“But I know the special quality of the player, the consistent physicality and the finishing.”
Sterling has been increasingly assured in front of goal under Guardiola and he was was calmness personified for each of his efforts against the Hammers.
He coolly slotted from close range for the first, lobbed Lukasz Fabianski for the second and latched onto Riyad Mahrez’ slide rule ball before stroking home to complete his treble.
It was his second strike which was most eye-catching, but Guardiola was particularly impressed with his final goal, which he said evidenced Sterling’s willingness to learn from his mistakes, having spurned a similar chance last weekend.
“The control was not good for the second goal but the finish was good,” he explained.
“The third goal was really good, a much better one-against-one situation than against Liverpool.
“He missed against Allison but he learned from that and that is nice to see how a 24-year-old can learn from it and become more clinical.
"That’s why he scored a hat-trick.”