Transfer Talk: Chelsea target Sterling ready to shine at Stamford Bridge

Only Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy have scored more Premier League goals than Raheem Sterling in the last five seasons.

Yet the 27-year-old seems to have fallen out of favour at Manchester City, who are prepared to let the forward join title rivals Chelsea this summer.

Signing a four-time Premier League winner would certainly be a statement of intent from new Blues owner Todd Boehly — but where would the England international fit in?

We explore the options available to Thomas Tuchel and assess whether Sterling would jump ship.

Sharp shooter

In each of the last five seasons, Sterling has out-scored Chelsea’s leading Premier League marksman.

Over that period, the former Liverpool forward has gone from tricky winger to clinical frontman, scoring 78 times against an expected goals total of 76 in the same time.

On top of that, he has created 250 chances — ranking 10th in the Premier League — and is fourth for completed take-ons (320) since 2017-18.

In simple terms, Sterling remains a significant danger in and around the penalty area.

But why leave a City side so utterly dominant over the last five years?

The simple answer is a lack of minutes.

Sterling has seen his Premier League game time drop in each of the last three seasons and — for the first time under Pep Guardiola — played just 62.2% of available league minutes last term.

Speaking in October, Sterling admitted he would be willing to explore the possibility of new opportunities.

He said: “If there was the option to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it.”

From City’s perspective, they do not stand in the way of players who want to leave. The additions of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez have bolstered an already stacked forward line and Sterling’s contract expires next summer.

This is their last chance to recoup the initial £44million they paid in the summer of 2015.

Chelsea’s need

Clearly, Sterling is still at the top of his game — but he has reasons for wanting to leave the champions.

Chelsea need to bolster their frontline. Midfielders Mason Mount (11) and Jorginho (7) have been their top scorers in the last two Premier League seasons.

In the meantime, £97.5m flop Romelu Lukaku looks set to rejoin Inter Milan on loan, less than 12 months after his club-record switch to Stamford Bridge.

Blues boss Tuchel has reportedly spoken to Sterling about life at Chelsea and how he sees him fitting in. A formal bid is now expected.

Versatility is key

In 2021-22, Sterling spent the majority of his time on the left-hand side of City’s front three. After that, he was used in the centre and on the right.

Playing under Guardiola necessitates a certain amount of versatility. But Sterling is comfortable in each of those roles and has played as a central forward right back to his Liverpool days.

That is part of the attraction for Tuchel, who has alternated between 3-4-3, 4-3-3 and 3-4-2-1 systems during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Sterling could slot into any of the forward positions, or play as one of the dual No10s behind a main striker — likely to be Kai Havertz.

Speaking at the end of last season, Tuchel highlighted the need for Chelsea to improve in front of goal — despite finishing as the Premier League’s third-highest scorers with 76 goals.

He said: “The numbers we produce from our offensive players don’t allow us to over-perform and we need over-performance if we want to be nearer to the top two teams.

“I am not pointing fingers, I am not blaming anybody, but we need over-performance from everybody. It’s not over-performance if we have only single figures in scoring and assisting.”

Only three wide forwards — Salah, Heung-Min Son and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — have a better non-penalty xG per 90 minutes over the last five seasons than City’s No7.

A move to Stamford Bridge may well help the value of Sterling bounce back.