Pep Guardiola says he hopes Raheem Sterling gets a big reception on his first return to the Etihad Stadium since leaving City.

The England winger is expected to be part of the Chelsea squad for our Carabao Cup third round clash on Wednesday night (kick-off 20:00 UK).

Sterling joined City from Liverpool a season before Guardiola arrived, and was a big part of our recent success, collecting four Premier League winners’ medals, five League Cups and an FA Cup.

He left in the summer along with a number of important members of the squad, including Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko and Zack Steffen, on loan at Middlesbrough, and the boss says he wants the best for his former players.

“My gratitude to all of them, these guys especially, is immense,” the boss said.


“What they have done for this Club, it’s just ‘hats off’. Thank you so much and I wish him all the best and hopefully he’s happy there.”

Asked whether Sterling would get a warm welcome back from the City fans, Guardiola added that he deserves to.

“I definitely hope so,” he said. “I always like the clubs when they welcome the guys who have been here many years and have been a key figure and had an important role in our team in all these years.

“Maybe you forget what happened in the last month, that is not the reality of what happened over a period of six, seven years when he was here.

“He deserves it of course and he’s more than welcome [back].

“When the game starts, we want to beat them, but of course he has to get a good reception. Everyone in England appreciates that.”

Sterling established himself as one of our greatest modern-day players during his seven years at the Club, making 339 appearances and scoring 131 goals.  

Only Sergio Aguero has scored more than his 91 Premier League goals whilst he is 11th on the list of City’s record goal-scorers.

He is also our second-highest scorer of all-time in European football, with 24 Champions League goals second (again) to Aguero’s 43.

Sterling was in the City side that lost 1-0 in the 2021 Champions League final when we lost to Chelsea.

“We worked for six years every day together, working and playing a lot, a lot of games,” Guardiola added.

“Maybe the most important game we played is the final of the Champions League and he was there. If he is happy we are happy.”