The Belgian superstar has sympathised with teammate Sterling after the England international has found first-team football hard to come by for the majority of this season’s action so far
As a result, Sterling refused to rule out a move away from the Etihad after six years at the club.
“If there was the option to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it,” the forward explained at a Financial Times summit.
“As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I’ve always thought you know maybe one day I’d love to play abroad, to see how I would come up against that challenge,” revealed Sterling.
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While the comments sparked controversy and divided opinion among the City faithful, teammate De Bruyne has admitted he understands Sterling’s perspective on the situation.
Speaking ahead of a return to his home country for City’s Champions League fixture with Club Bruges, De Bruyne took a balanced view.
The midfielder said: “Rotation is important because we are playing four competitions and mostly going far, but I understand the frustration. I am a player that needs rhythm also.”
Manager Pep Guardiola was less sympathetic in his assessment of Sterling’s comments, claiming the forward is free to leave if he wants.
“Raheem is our player, hopefully he will [continue to] be an incredibly important player for us.
“I don’t know if he wants to play more game time like Riyad [Mahrez], who doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain, like João [Cancelo] doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain.
“What I want from Raheem and everyone is they have to be satisfied to be here and delighted to be in this club,” the City boss continued.
“If that’s not the case they are free to take the best decision for the player and his family.
“Not just Raheem, all of them want to play every game but I cannot assure them. They have to improve every training session and be there on the pitch and try to be happy there.”
Sterling’s recent demise at club level comes as somewhat of a surprise given his stellar performances for England at Euro 2020.
The forward found the net on three occasions for Gareth Southgate’s side and was arguably England’s player of the tournament as the Three Lions reached their first major final in 55 years.
City are aiming to go one step further in the Champions League this time around, after falling to a 1-0 defeat in the final to Premier League rivals Chelsea last season.