I thought Sterling would be a bit of a d***head! – De Bruyne

The Belgium star was expecting his City team-mate to be a more arrogant, flashy character than the “humble guy” he has befriended at Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has admitted that he thought Raheem Sterling would be “would be a bit of a d*******” when he joined the club in 2015. Both men arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the summer following the 2014-15 campaign as they were signed for lucrative transfer fees from Wolfsburg and Liverpool respectively by then boss Manuel Pellegrini.

De Bruyne’s goal at City was to change his public perception after an ill-fated spell at Chelsea, while Sterling was aiming to shake off the “flash guy” label which followed him around at Anfield. The former has certainly achieved his goal, emerging as one of the Premier League’s finest players in recent years while also spearheading City’s title win last season.

The latter, meanwhile, is now widely revered as England’s most effective attacker, having transformed into a mature, reliable and above all lethal forward under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola. Reminiscing on his early days at the club, De Bruyne has revealed he was expecting Sterling to be a difficult character to get along with after reading widespread reports in the press, but he was pleasantly surprised by his colleague.

“Before I came to Manchester City, I didn’t really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy,” De Bruyne told the Player’s Tribune.

“I had never met him, and from what I’d read about him, I thought he was going to be a very different character. I didn’t think he’d be a bad guy, really. But the tabloids were always claiming that he was arrogant. So I guess I thought he’d be … what do the English call it? A bit of a d*******, maybe?

“Over time, I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together. He couldn’t be more different from what the tabloids were saying. This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve met in football.”

Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2018-19

Sterling is currently enjoying his best season yet at the Etihad, with many supporters and experts calling for him to be awarded this year’s PFA Player of the Year award. The 24-year-old has contributed 17 goals and nine assists in 27 Premier League appearances, while also playing a starring role in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

The England international grabbed a superb brace against Crystal Palace on Sunday which ensured Guardiola’s side remain in pole position to retain the title ahead of Liverpool. A huge Champions League quarter-final second leg against Tottenham is up next for Sterling and company on Wednesday, as their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple enters its final stages.