Raheem Sterling has every reason to believe a move to Chelsea will add a new dimension to his already glittering career.
The 27-year-old has sealed a £50million move to become the first major signing of Todd Boehly’s era as Chelsea owner. It sees him leave Manchester City after seven years, where he has won four Premier League titles.
But at Chelsea, the stage is set for Raheem Sterling to become the main man – a luxury he was never afforded at City.
True, Raheem Sterling has played more under Pep Guardiola than any other player the Spaniard has managed across his own esteemed career, but the England international often found himself benched last season for key matches in City’s run-in.
That should not detract from the calibre of player Chelsea are signing, though.
Raheem Sterling scored 120 goals for City under Guardiola’s guidance and at 27, has his golden years ahead of him.
It will be fascinating to see how Tuchel selects his attack now Sterling’s switch is wrapped up.
Romelu Lukaku’s departure has paved the way for an attacker to come in at Stamford Bridge but a forward in the traditional No 9 role hasn’t looked like something Chelsea have needed under Tuchel.
As last season progressed, Kai Havertz was preferred to Lukaku in a false 9 role that wasn’t too dissimilar to the position fulfilled by Roberto Firmino in recent years at Liverpool.
So how will that work for Sterling? Well, occupying either flank and coming inside to attack the space Havertz creates will be something he relishes. He could be the player Chelsea thought they were getting in Timo Werner – but his proven goal record in the Premier League lowers the sense of risk around this deal.
Indeed, options such as Sterling, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Werner and Mason Mount in attack is strong for Tuchel. Sterling has also played through the middle in times gone by as well, so provides an alternative to Havertz.
As well as goals, Sterling’s pace, directness with the ball at his feet and his creativity is what could spark Chelsea into further life this season. While last season he provided just five assists, he is already 25th on the Premier League’s all-time list of assist providers with an overall tally of 56.
And in terms of goals, Sterling is already in the higher echelons of all-time Premier League scorers with 109 strikes for both City and Liverpool, which ranks him at 26th on the overall list.
Furthermore, a transfer fee of £50m is astute business for Boehly and Chelsea. Granted, Sterling had a year remaining on his City deal but players with the experience and track record of his rarely come at such a reasonable cost.
One thing Tuchel will look to Sterling for is to lead by example with his work rate – something the attacker cannot be critcised for. The hard yards off the ball was one aspect that last season helped Havertz dislodge Lukaku in the eyes of Tuchel.
Speaking back in February, after a 3-1 Champions League win over Lille, where Havertz opened the scoring, Tuchel said: ‘I am very pleased for Kai. He really steps up. The effort is immense, the work rate is immense, the areas of the pitch he covers for us.
‘He was very good, very decisive. He was never shy of defending. We had an aggressive high line today with our offensive players.
‘It was a formation to have intensity and a high work-rate consistently throughout the whole match and they did very well.’
And Sterling still has plenty to achieve in his career, too. He hasn’t won the Champions League yet, but did play in the final that City lost to Tuchel’s Chelsea.
Despite that result in 2021, Chelsea themselves acknowledge there is a gap to bridge between City and Liverpool if they are to consider themselves a proper force. And with wages of £300,000 a week, Boehly and Chelsea have put their money where their mouth is – they clearly back Sterling to be the man to close the gap.
Sterling’s wages put him in the same bracket as stars such as Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah at City and Liverpool respectively. There is expectation on him to deliver.
But at 27, with 77 England caps to his name already and approaching his peak years, that is the expectation that Sterling wants and is ready for.
These next few years are where Raheem Sterling should catch fire and if he does so at Chelsea, both parties should win big.