Raheem Sterling is entering a critical stage in his career. Speculation has been swirling over his future, and he has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea.
The Premier League betting markets indicate Manchester City are priced quite short to mount a successful title defense, but will Sterling remain at the Etihad?
We will find out more in the coming months, but would Sterling be better off at Chelsea? Is he what they need? Here’s how I see this saga unfolding.
Getting a Pep Talk
Sterling is entering the final year of his contract — and for a player entering his prime at 27 — his next move could be critical for his career.
Naturally, City boss Pep Guardiola will have been upfront with Sterling about where he fits into his plans. You imagine the Spanish coach will want to build his side around new boy Erling Haaland, who could be a game-changing signing.
With 109 goals and 56 assists to his name in 320 Premier League outings, Sterling has been irresistible at times to watch, and the only major trophy missing from his resume is the Champions League.
Last season, Sterling made 23 EPL starts, with only attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva making more in a City shirt (33), but things have started to peter out for Sterling.
He was left on the bench for the epic 4-3 win over Aston Villa on the final day of last season, and his contribution against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final defeat amounted to a mere 28 minutes across both legs.
Sterling has provided many amazing moments over the years for City, but he won’t want to be a fringe player moving forward.
Finding a Romelu Lukaku Replacement
Romelu Lukaku is on the brink of a return to Inter Milan. He has proved to be one of the most expensive flops in Premier League history after Chelsea stumped up $119million for his services last summer.
Chelsea’s attack is an obvious flaw, especially when you consider how well documented Timo Werner’s struggles have been.
Would Sterling fit into Thomas Tuchel’s system? Chelsea doesn’t break with the same pace as City do on the counter-attack. When you factor in that the Blues are looking for a prolific striker, Sterling doesn’t necessarily fit that mold.
Only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals in all competitions (124) since Guardiola’s arrival in 2016, but Sterling still has to improve some aspects of his finishing if he wants to top the goalscoring charts.
Tuchel is quite a demanding manager — and Chelsea over the years — has tended to rinse through mediocre strikers. This should be a clear warning to Sterling.
There are several top strikers that Chelsea could look to pluck this summer. I think Lautaro Martinez’s exploits at Inter Milan should be enough to persuade Blues chiefs to make a move.
If Chelsea were able to recruit a top striker — then it would send a warning to their rivals — and their EPL odds to lift the title next season would be cut significantly. Currently, Chelsea is priced at +1600 to be crowned champions at the end of the 2022/23 campaign.
Make Your Mind Up Time
The ball is in Sterling’s court, and this is probably one of the biggest decisions he’s made in his career.
While an opportunity to Chelsea would be very enticing — and of course, a big-money contract — Sterling ought to stick it out at City. At the moment City’s Premier League odds to retain the title are a short -160.
The Champions League remains the holy grail for most players, and City are inching ever closer to winning Europe’s premier club competition.
With the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon, Sterling will want to be in Gareth Southgate’s thinking for England. I think sticking things out and competing for a starting spot at City isn’t such a bad thing for Sterling.
Charles Perrin is a freelance content writer for BetMGM covering the Premier League and is an expert on football betting matters. Previously, he was the Daily Express' overnight sports editor in London.