Although the dust may be beginning to settle on the midweek Champions League action, the footballing world continue to purr over the performance of Raheem Sterling.

In Thursday’s headlines, the City and England forward is tipped to become the best player in the world, while there is a word from the man himself on how a growing maturity has guided him to success.

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WATCH: Brief highlights | City v Atalanta

Meanwhile, attentions turn to Saturday’s Premier League lunchtime visit of Aston Villa and there are also a few snippets of transfer gossip…

From the players

The Mirror: Raheem Sterling says new-found maturity has elevated him from golden boy to Man City’s top man

Raheem Sterling: “One thing is age. I was 19 or 20 when I came to City and I was nowhere near the maturity level I am now.

“Another is being in a good team, and then the final thing is down to yourself, it’s what you want to do in football.

“Do you want to be a winger who takes 10 people on and delivers nothing or do you want to be someone who helps win games for your team?

“I think all that comes with maturity. I keep learning each day to be better at it and to be involved in the game and be effective.

WATCH: Brief highlights: City v Atalanta

“I’m thriving on just waiting for the next game really.

“I’ve scored a hat-trick and I can’t wait for the weekend to hopefully get some chances and be involved again to score some goals.”


Opinion

Daily Mail: Under Pep Guardiola, red-hot Raheem Sterling has emerged as one of the world's finest players. So, is THIS the season he breaks the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly at the top of football?

Craig Hope: “The Manchester City forward has now scored 11 goals in 12 games for his club this campaign and has impressed for England too.

“He is a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or at the end of the season and will be hoping to win it ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

“There is now a question as to whether Sterling can be the next player on the world stage to hit the same heights as that duo, who have dominated football for the last decade.

“That would be a tough ask, given how much both have achieved, yet there is a suggestion Sterling could crack it.

“To do that he will need games, goals and glory - and given he represents Manchester City and an exciting England, there is every chance 2020 could bring multiple trophies.

“Off the pitch he has emerged as a role model, not just for young players but his peers, too. He is leading by example in what he says and what he does.

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“Ultimately, though, his performances on the pitch will determine if can ever be considered the world's best footballer.

“Of all those attempting to break the Messi and Ronaldo duopoly, it is Sterling who looks best placed to do so.”


View from the opposition

Birmingham Mail: Manchester City 'beatable' as former Aston Villa star close to new Liverpool contract

Conor Hourihane: "I suppose you go into those two games, starting with City, high on confidence. We will see how it goes.

“The recent results have given us a lift. We were inexperienced, so to speak, at this level barring a couple of players.

"To get good results at this level is only going to breed confidence. Are City beatable? Why not? We will go into every game for the win.

"We have been very close to beating a couple of the top teams already, Arsenal and Spurs. Hopefully we can go one better.”


Transfer gossip

The Guardian: Manchester City interested in Fabián Ruiz but face Barcelona and Real battle

Fabrizio Romano: “Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Napoli’s Fabián Ruiz and sent a scout to the Champions League game against Salzburg on Wednesday to watch the midfielder in action.

“The 23-year-old was the outstanding player of the Under-21 European Championship last summer when Spain won their fifth title and has impressed in Serie A since joining Napoli from Real Betis in 2018.

“City face competition from Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are keeping an eye on the development of a player who can play centrally or on the left of midfield and has been likened to David Silva.

“He made his Spain debut in June and has five caps.”

 

The 72: Manchester City and Liverpool join race for QPR and Leeds United-linked defender

Harry Mail: "A host of big Premier League clubs have joined the race to sign promising Hearts defender Aaron Hickey.

“The in-demand left-back has been linked with Championship duo QPR and Leeds United recently but both sides will face strong competition to land his signature, as per a report by London Football News.

“The likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton and Newcastle United are believed to have sent scouts to watch him this season.

“Hickey, who is 17 years-old, has risen into Hearts’ first team over the past few months and has established himself as a key player for Craig Levein’s side.”