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Raheem Sterling challenged by Pep Guardiola to earn his place after exit comments

The England star has started only four of his club’s games this season, contributing one goal. It follows a quiet end to the last campaign, which saw him fade out of Guardiola’s regular line-ups.

But Guardiola believes his star must prove himself when he is picked to play, and stated: “Raheem is our player, hopefully he will be an incredibly important player for us.

“I don’t know if he wants to play more. Like Riyad [Mahrez] doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain, Joao [Cancelo] when he doesn’t play and he doesn’t complain. I cannot assure them, they know it, I cannot assure how many minutes each one plays.

“Always, they have to speak on the pitch. That is the best moment. Not Raheem, all of them. They know they are going to play minutes, I’m not a guy who only plays 11 players, all of them are involved.

“What I want from Raheem and everyone is they have to be satisfied to be here and delighted to be in this club. If that’s not the case he has to take the best decision for his family, for all the people who love them.”

Guardiola has one of football’s most expensively assembled squads at his disposal along with a hugely-talented set of youngsters coming through the City academy.

With at least some big-name players likely to be disappointed after every team selection, the Spaniard called on his players to keep faith in his decisions.

He said: “They believe it’s personal. But I take the decision because I think it’s the best for tomorrow to play.

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“In my career important players don’t play, I consider in that moment one player is more important for what I need. When it’s going well everything is happy. When it’s not, it’s just me so I take the decisions for the best for the club, not for the players.”

He added: “Not just for Raheem, for all the players. I said many times. You have to be there and fight and be good every day.

“After the transfer windows you decide, when it’s finished, you have to accept my decisions. I’m the manager, I decide what’s best for the team.

“I don’t make decisions for the player. I’m thinking the best for the team to win games, to make happy the fans, the organisation. Be proud of what you do. It’s the only situation.”

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