Raheem Sterling pinpointed the arrival of Bernardo Silva as a "massive turning point" in his Manchester City career.
The England international has a combined 56 goals and assists in the Premier League over the past two campaigns, compared to 21 during his first two seasons at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling puts his improvement down to the signing of Silva from Monaco in May 2017 for a reported £43million, admitting the addition of another wide player forced him to raise his game.
He told The Mirror: "I went back to north-west London. I went to see my friend and he said, 'They've just bought Bernardo Silva.' He was worried for me. And I was saying, 'That's sick, man.' He was really surprised but I thought, 'It's good, it's competition and it brings out the best in me.'
"That was a massive turning point when the wingers came in to push me. It was a good thing.
"At the time, it was only me and Leroy [Sane] and I just knew that it would push me again to do better because I knew there was someone else there. When you're in a team, it's not about ego, it's about raising your game to help the team.
"People had started to doubt me and I began to doubt myself as well and believe what was being said. It wasn't about getting my belief back, but I kind of blocked people out. I was like, 'OK, no problem, I'll show you.'"
Sterling was voted the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for 2018-19 and was named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside team-mate Silva.
Off the field, meanwhile, the 24-year-old has been hailed as a role model for speaking out on racism and questioning the media's part in the problem.
But Sterling insists he does not see it that way, even if it makes his mother proud.
"People keep saying that," he said. "I don't want to say role model because I don't see myself as one.
"It gives my mum pride, I'll tell you that.
"I don't think I've changed anything, but I've opened up a door for work to be done. That's what I love about this country. People are always listening, people want to do the right thing and I definitely see it as something that has done positively.
"I adore this country because the people here are so loving and so willing to listen to try and do things for the better."