Raheem Sterling is one of the top five players in the world, better than Neymar, and should be targeting winning the Ballon d’Or in his career – according to former Chelsea and Marseille forward Tony Cascarino.
The Manchester City winger put in another incisive performance for England on Saturday night, with a goal and an assist in the 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Bulgaria.
Neymar made a goalscoring return for Brazil earlier in the week, netting in the 2-2 draw with Colombia after three months out with an ankle injury. But for Cascarino, Sterling has surpassed him in recent seasons.
“Who would you rather have: Neymar or Sterling? I’d have Sterling as a player,” he told talkSPORT.
“Try to ignore the antics that have gone on with Neymar off the field, I actually think Sterling’s better on the field.
“His numbers are better and he’s playing in a better team. I’ve seen Neymar do things that no other footballer can do in the game, like a ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ footballer.
“But if you want a player to be brilliant for the team and score goals at the rate Neymar can, Sterling’s your man.”
Sterling registered more goals and more assists than Neymar from a similar position on the left wing last season, and lifted more trophies as City waltzed to a historic domestic treble.
Three years Neymar’s junior at 24, Sterling’s improvement in recent seasons has been remarkable, with many crediting City boss Pep Guardiola for his evolution as a player. His manager has been keen to ensure the praise goes to Sterling, who he says could hit the 30-goal mark for the first time this season.
“I would definitely argue he’s in the top five players in the world,” added Cascarino.
“What excites me about Sterling is the improvement. The improvement has been dramatic.
“If you were to put him on the market tomorrow, Man City wouldn’t take £150 million for him.
“If he continues to improve, he’ll become the first or second [best player in the world] and probably win the Ballon d’Or along the way.
“If he wins the Champions League with Man City and plays a big part in that, and he scores a lot of goals over the course of the season, he’ll have a great chance of winning it [the Ballon d’Or].”