Raheem Sterling will become the second player this summer to leave Manchester City for one of his ‘Big Six’ rivals Agreeing personal terms with Chelsea.
After selling Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal and signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, City will look different up front this season.
Chelsea will also have a new look, with England striker Sterling joining Inter Milan following the return of Romelu Lukaku.
So what is Sterling’s legacy at City, why is he leaving and what will he bring to Thomas Tuchel’s side?
How will he be remembered at City?
City have won 29 major trophies in their history, 12 of them while Sterling was there – including four of their eight league titles, five of their eight League Cups and one FA Cup.
After joining from Liverpool, he leaves the team with 131 goals and 74 assists in 339 games over seven seasons.
He was also an extremely important part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching career, making more appearances (292) for the Catalan than anyone else.
Only Lionel Messi (211) and Sergio Aguero (124) have scored more goals for Guardiola than Sterling at 120. He is also third with 66 assists, behind only Kevin de Bruyne (105) and Messi (80).
“He’s been an incredibly important player all these seasons, with all the goals and assists, and when he has confidence he’s a really, really important player,” said Guardiola last season.
Still, Sterling never really established himself as a legend in the eyes of City fans.
“Sterling has never been a crowd pleaser, which is difficult to explain given that he has now won more Premier League titles than any non-Manchester United player apart from John Terry and Fernandinho,” said BBC Sport’s Simon Stone.
“His form has been patchy. Sometimes he looks very effective, sometimes he can be quite wasteful and he still misses chances in front of goal. Despite that, he remains a danger with the ball at his feet and his best days could still be ahead of him.” by him.
“He could be one of those players whose time at City is more valued in hindsight than it was then.”
Why are Man City letting him go?
Sterling’s tremendous success at City raises an obvious question – why are they allowing him to go to a potential title rival?
There are two big factors. One is the fact he’s out of contract next summer so this was the last chance to make money – and the other comes with the signing of Haaland.
City have often played without an orthodox striker in recent seasons, with Aguero often injured and then leaving for Barcelona.
But the £51m signing of Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland, who has scored more than 150 goals at the age of 21, is sure to change that.
Only nine of Sterling’s 47 games last season were central, but Phil Foden – who was nominally a center forward 19 times – will occupy a wing spot most of the time.
Sterling only started 23 Premier League games last season – and that was without Haaland at the club.
“City didn’t actively want him to go and would have been glad if he stayed,” Stone added. “But he also wanted to be an integral part of a team that plays at the highest level. Pep would never guarantee that.
“Ideally they would have sold to a non-Premier League club. However, if Chelsea were willing to pay more than anyone else for a player who could have gone for nothing in 12 months, it would make financial sense.”
Where will he fit in at Chelsea?
|2021-22||Romelu Lukaku: 15||17|
|2020-21||Tammy Abraham/Timo Werner: 12||14|
|2019-20||Tammy Abraham: 18||31|
|2018-19||Eden Hazard: 21||25|
|2017-18||Eden Hazard: 17th||23|
One thing Chelsea will get is goals and assists, something they’ve been lacking despite their recent success.
The last time a Chelsea player scored more goals than Sterling in a season – in both league and all competitions – was Diego Costa in 2016/17.
“Given his ability to score goals, Sterling looks like an improvement on those already in place and is making up the deficit that Lukaku left behind,” said BBC Sports’ Alistair Magowan.
“It also represents a declaration of intent from the new owners, who are said to have ambitious plans in the transfer market.
Crucially, he is Tuchel’s first signing since he was given increased power under co-owner and interim sporting director Todd Boehly after the departure of technical and performance adviser Petr Cech and director Marina Granovskaia, who led the negotiations. “
Since 2017/18, the England striker has scored 110 goals and created a further 51 for City in all competitions.
Olivier Giroud (39) – now at AC Milan – and Eden Hazard (38) remain Chelsea’s top scorers during this period. Hazard joined Real Madrid three years ago. Willian, who left two years ago, is her best assistant at 31.
Sterling could step in as a false nine, a system Chelsea boss Tuchel appears to favor. It’s even more likely that Chelsea will be without a proper striker after loaning last season’s top scorer Lukaku to Inter Milan.
Last season, Sterling had more touches inside the box (8.93) per 90 minutes than any remaining Chelsea forward.
He also attempted and completed more dribbles than anyone on the blues frontline. Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount passed more than Sterling and Sterling – although he scored more goals – shot less per 90 minutes than Ziyech, Timo Werner, Mount and Kai Havertz.
Chelsea already have a lot of opportunities in attack but need someone who can score and score regularly.
“Sterling’s arrival will raise questions about the future of wingers Werner, Christian Pulisic and Ziyech,” said Magowan.
“They were all signed before Tuchel was appointed midway through the 2020-21 season.
“With Sterling there will be additional pressure on Tuchel. The manager will need a goal return, but the success of the signing may also depend on Werner, Pulisic or Ziyech also leaving the club, which will avoid frustrations over the playing time and help balance books in majority private equity ownership.”
Can you name those players who have moved between the big six clubs?
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