Raheem Sterling said on Monday he sees his long-term future at Premier League leaders Manchester City and has no interest in a move to Arsenal.
Sterling was linked with a cash-plus-player move to the Emirates Stadium at the end of August as City tried to secure a deal for Alexis Sanchez.
Pep Guardiola’s City always indicated that they wanted a cash-only deal for Sanchez, who ended up staying in north London after a £60 million ($ 80 million, 68 million euros) attempt to sign him fell through.
Arsenal were willing to sell at that price, but were forced to withdraw from the deal after failing in their bid to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco as a replacement.
Sterling said he never considered the possibility of leaving City, where he has two-and-a-half years to run on the contract he signed after joining from Liverpool for an initial £44 million fee in July 2015.
And he says he wants to stay at the Etihad Stadium and continue his impressive form under manager Guardiola.
“I signed for five years here. I’ve got two-and-a-half years left and I see myself here and playing my football here under a great manager with a great team,” said Sterling.
“I didn’t need to speak with Pep because I had already spoken to him during the summer about pre-season. I didn’t have any negative thoughts or anything bad about it.
“I just woke up one day with England and saw it, and I decided I wouldn’t believe a word of it until I heard something from the manager, then I would believe it.
“It wasn’t something I was worried about because Pep is an honest guy and he would have spoken to me about it before that.”
– Sterling goals –
Sterling has scored seven goals in all competitions this season and is well on course to beat his best-ever total of 11 in one campaign.
He will get the chance to add to that total against Napoli in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Kevin De Bruyne will be the focus of attention after his outstanding display in Saturday’s 7-2 win over Stoke.
But Guardiola said the Belgium international has to win major titles if he wants to be considered in the same bracket as Lionel Messi.
“The best is just one (Messi),” said the City manager. “If you want to be considered one of the best, you have to win titles and we are here to help him achieve that. The best is just one but he (De Bruyne) is one of the best.
“It would be a dream for me. I would love not only Kevin but all the players I have in the past to get to the level of Messi.”
Sergio Aguero could make his comeback against Italian league leaders Napoli, having recovered from the broken rib he suffered in a taxi crash in Amsterdam on September 28.
Aguero was an unused substitute against Stoke but has made good progress in the past few days.
Guardiola said: “Day by day, he is much better. Yesterday he had an amazing training session. The day before, for the game against Stoke, he was good but not perfect. Yesterday was really good.”
Whether Aguero returns or not Guardiola’s Napoli counterpart Maurizio Sarri believes City have enough firepower without the Argentine to beat them and his side are playing for the runners-up spot.
“Manchester City are playing at a different level than the other teams in the group,” said Sarri.
“They are one of the strongest teams in Europe.
“I think they will win the group so the results in the other games will be decisive for us. If one of the other teams takes points off City that would be great for us.”