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Raheem Sterling: Why Chelsea appreciate true value of Manchester City and England forward

For Chelsea's co-controlling owner Todd Boehly, prising a ready-made serial winner in Raheem Sterling from a title rival would be a big opening statement; Personal terms have been agreed and confirmation of fee owed to Man City expected imminently

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With Raheem Sterling being linked to Chelsea we take a look at some of the greatest goals he has scored in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola stood in a state of shock on the touchline as he stared into the abyss. 

Trailing Aston Villa in the 56th minute, the prospect of a fourth Premier League title in five seasons was seemingly evaporating before his eyes.

An enthralling race for supremacy with Liverpool had its unexpected twist when the Manchester City manager turned to his bench and summoned Raheem Sterling.

City had lacked a cutting edge, but the Catalan knew exactly who to turn to in his hour of need.

Sterling is a player often maligned for his finishing, but his role in turning around City's fortunes during their dramatic final-day comeback in May cannot be underplayed.

Pep Guardiola instructs Sterling against Aston Villa
Image: Pep Guardiola instructs Sterling against Aston Villa

City would fall further behind before Sterling got to work.

He fronted up Lucas Digne, using Gabriel Jesus as a decoy to glide past the full-back from a standing start to reach the byline. There was still much to do, but the winger stood up a pinpoint cross to dissect the three remaining Villa defenders and plant the ball just over the head of Matty Cash. Ilkay Gundogan just had to meet it to spark the fightback.

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It was the first of three goals in five minutes which secured the title.

Guardiola has always appreciated the value of Sterling, whose impact was a defiant reminder of his importance. Since the manager's appointment at the start of the 2016/17 season, no player has made more Premier League appearances for City than Sterling's 194. No City player has scored more than his 85 goals.

Speaking in February after the winger scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Norwich, Guardiola said: "I have known Raheem for six seasons. I know him perfectly well. This season he was outstanding in goals and assists and his contribution to the team.

If we count the amount of games he played since we are together, it is a lot. He was a key player. In the future? I don't know what will happen. The club decides.
Pep Guardiola on Raheem Sterling - February 2022

"During that period there are highs and lows. It's part of life. Teams are not honeymoons. There are problems and we have to solve them.

"Nobody doubts how important he is. He is showing that. What I want is for all the players to play well.

"If we count the amount of games he played since we are together, it is a lot. He was a key player. In the future? I don't know what will happen. The club decides.

"When the club extends contracts, I give my opinion, but the club takes the decision, always."

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Paul Merson believes Manchester United would struggle to replace Cristiano Ronaldo's goals should the Portuguese star decide to leave Old Trafford this summer.

There was a vagueness to that closing sentence. For all of the Pep platitudes, there have been peaks and troughs at City for Sterling, and it is not immediately clear what his legacy will be.

There is something not entirely surprising about Chelsea formalising their interest in him. Uncertainty surrounds his future at the Etihad Stadium, and Thomas Tuchel is ready to test City's resolve.

Sterling has a year left to run on his £300,000-a-week contract. City paid £49m to prise him from Liverpool in 2015 but his seven-year stay could soon be at an end.

Liverpool have shuffled the pack and Jurgen Klopp's side are not alone in putting the wheels in motion for a methodical evolution. Erling Haaland is the present and future, and while some have already questioned the Norwegian's natural fit for a Guardiola team, selling Sterling would further signal a shift in attacking approach.

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has made Manchester City's Raheem Sterling his top transfer priority this summer.

Jack Grealish has completed his first season following his £100m move last summer and will now be expected to feature more prominently. Julian Alvarez is arriving from River Plate and will form part of Guardiola's squad. Jesus has joined Arsenal for £45m.

City are evolving, and Sterling could be the next to be moved on. Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips has been recruited and Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella is a top summer target. Guardiola may anticipate at least one, maybe more, of Sterling, Gundogan, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Bernardo Silva departing.

Sterling has always been a purple-patch player. Jose Mourinho once used the analogy of a ketchup bottle waiting to explode to describe Romelu Lukaku at Manchester United, and the same has applied to Sterling in the past.

After a slow start, he would end last season on 13 goals and five assists, averaging a goal involvement every 118 minutes.

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Mark McAdam says Chelsea would need to offer Manchester City around £60m for a deal for Raheem Sterling to be completed this summer.

Under Guardiola, no player is guaranteed his place and Sterling will experience similar rotation were he to make the switch to Stamford Bridge. He would be replacing one perfectionist as his mentor with another.

He would be replacing Phil Foden, Grealish, Jesus and Riyad Mahrez as competition with Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Timo Werner. He would be no more certain of minutes. As Lukaku found out, there are no guarantees.

Tuchel's tinkering is almost as renowned as Pep's roulette, but a return to the capital for the boy from Brent, raised within sight of Wembley's famous arch, is one that could suit all parties.

Guardiola has repeatedly stated he doesn't like to keep players who are unhappy and is open to allowing Sterling's exit this summer, even to a Premier League rival, on condition that an acceptable bid in the region of £50m is tabled.

While there is no suggestion of discontent on Sterling's part, the player feels he can contribute more.

In the same way that Sadio Mane has sought a fresh challenge with Bayern Munich, Sterling could see this summer as the right time to experience a change.

Barring the elusive Champions League medal, it has been a partnership decorated with silverware. Four Premier League titles, as many League Cups, and the 2019 FA Cup underscore this success.

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Mark McAdam and Tim Vickery discuss the potential for Raheem Sterling to join Chelsea from Manchester City.

Mane embodied Klopp's Liverpool, but the same can equally be said of Sterling at Guardiola's City.

And yet, in the big games, Mane would be the first name on Klopp's team sheet. The same has not always applied to Sterling.

A cameo role in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, he was again consigned to the substitutes bench at the Bernabeu.

It was only nine minutes into extra time, with City chasing another rescue mission, that Guardiola turned to the England forward.

Sterling rightly sees himself as more than a final roll of the dice, or a luxury player to be summoned when Plan A has fallen flat. He will recall being marked out of the game by Reece James as Chelsea won the Champions League 13 months ago at his and City's expense.

Raheem Sterling's stats for Man City

Sterling was handed a start in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in April, but he faded badly after a lively opening. When it comes to the crunch, there is enough evidence to suggest that Guardiola doesn't fully trust him to make the telling difference.

A frustration will linger and will form part of his thought process as he considers his next step. His professionalism has never been in doubt, responding to that personal disappointment in Madrid by scoring twice in a 5-0 win over Newcastle four days later.

It led to further praise from Guardiola.

"Always, I am happy with his response," he said. "Of course, he is not happy when he doesn't play. That's normal. What he has done in our time together, with the numbers and statistics is amazing."

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With Chelsea interested in signing Raheem Sterling from Manchester City this summer, take a look at his perfect hat-trick against Norwich City in February.

In a World Cup year, Sterling has a decision to make. He turns 28 during the Qatar tournament and must decide whether moving clubs at this point is best for his career. His spot in the England team cannot be compromised.

Grealish's performance in the Nations League against Belgium in November 2020 generated a clamour for him to start in Sterling's place, but Gareth Southgate wasn't easily seduced.

Having had his position questioned, it was Sterling who would emerge as England's leading man at the Euros the following summer.

Asked who had impressed him most in inspiring England to reach the final, Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: "I said this after the group games, I think Sterling has been England's best player by a long way.

Raheem Sterling's shot map

"There was a lot of talk going into the competition that his position in the team was up for grabs, which I couldn't understand because he has been outstanding for Gareth Southgate since the World Cup, over a two or three-year period.

"I think before this tournament started, the two first names on the team sheet, if everyone was fit, would be Harry Kane and Harry Maguire - but now it has to be Raheem Sterling joining those two."

Sterling was one of a number of England players to suffer a post-final hangover at the start of last season, finding himself out of form and out of the City team. He wants greater minutes but also responsibility in this defining period of his career, and Chelsea are wanting a marquee signing to mark the start of a new era.

The move would not only benefit Chelsea.

Sterling has a 48 per cent big chance conversion rate
Image: Sterling has a 48 per cent big chance conversion rate

Sterling would improve on his understanding with England team-mates James and Mount, two players he can consult for a gauge on how Tuchel operates. Barcelona and Real Madrid have been linked but Chelsea are one of very few clubs who can afford his wages.

Tuchel will no doubt be attracted by Sterling's versatility across the forward line, capable of playing on either flank or through the middle as a false nine - a tactic the German has preferred over the conventional target man. Lukaku's return on loan to Inter Milan hastens talk of Sterling's arrival.

Chelsea won 21 men's trophies and 12 women's titles since Roman Abramovich's purchase in 2003. Todd Boehly has now replaced Bruce Buck as chairman, and prising a ready-made serial winner in Sterling would be a big opening statement.

Analysis: How much would Chelsea be willing to pay?

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The Athletic's Adam Crafton joins Sky Sports News to take a look at the latest sporting headlines.

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"There is real interest, and he would fit in perfectly with the way that Thomas Tuchel likes to play. We know that Sterling only has 12 months left to run on his contract and I think City would be prepared to sell him provided the price is right.

"As far as City are concerned, he is worth up to £60m. At the moment, there's no indication that Chelsea are prepared to pay that sort of money for a player who has one year left to run on his current deal.

"Mane is two-and-a-half years older than Sterling and he's just gone to Bayern Munich for around £35m so I think Chelse are thinking that is the benchmark figure of what they're willing to pay. I don't think it's by any means certain that Sterling will leave City this summer as the move has to be right for him and for City.

"There are a lot more clubs interested in him other than Chelsea."

Sterling move will depend on price

Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth:

"It's no secret Chelsea want Sterling - what it will come down to is valuation. City will want a good price for someone's who is 27-years-old, at the peak of his career. Chelsea will be playing on the fact he has a year left on his contract. They are almost putting the ball in City's court.

"City must have so much confidence in the success they're going to have and the squad they've got that they're willing to do business with a direct title rival."

'Sterling a polarising target for Chelsea fans, but would help refresh attack'

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The Athletic's Liam Twomey discusses Chelsea's potential bid of £50 million for Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, and whether he would be a good fit for the club.

The Athletic's Liam Twomey on Sky Sports News:

"I think it's a transfer that, potentially, works well for all parties. Sterling needs a change of scene; he has fallen out of favour at Manchester City, has a year left on his contract and there doesn't seem to be much of a market for him outside of Chelsea.

"I think a lot of the big Premier League clubs are experiencing this at the moment where it is easier for them to sell to each other, potentially, than to anyone else, given the finances involved. And Chelsea need a way to refresh their attacking options, particularly after letting Romelu Lukaku go back to Inter on loan.

"I think the new owners want to make a statement as well and while Raheem Sterling might not be the most exotic or exciting name to some Chelsea fans, he is Premier League proven, 27 years old, a key England international. He would clearly be a quality addition.

"I think Sterling is a little bit of a polarising target among Chelsea fans and I think part of that is just because he is so familiar. We know his flaws as a player so well, as well as his strengths, as we've been watching him forever in the Premier League and I think that feeds into the way a lot of Chelsea fans see him. But there is no denying he has been a very effective player in top teams in this league for a long, long time, so I think he'd be a very reliable performer.

"We are also seeing an increased willingness from Chelsea to look at Premier League proven targets. They have been burned in the last couple of years by signing players from other leagues who have maybe needed time to adapt or, in some cases, not really adapted at all and not been maximised in the team.

"Someone like Sterling who has already produced at a high level in the Premier League for many years, you can see why that would be attractive to Chelsea and, for Boehly, he's a big name. And at 27, he's someone you could still expect to be productive for several more years."

Who are Chelsea's other targets?

Chelsea transfer

Sky Sports News' senior reporter Melissa Reddy:

Chelsea are pressing ahead with their summer recruitment plans now that the £4.25bn Boehly-led consortium takeover of the club has been completed.

Chelsea are concentrating on deals for Raheem Sterling and Raphinha but have also discussed moves for Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

Bayern Munich want to sign Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt and negotiations are already in full swing, according to Sky in Germany.

Sky in Italy reported in June that De Ligt was one of Chelsea's transfer targets this summer, but the player is understood to be keen on a move to the Allianz Arena after hearing sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and head coach Julian Nagelsmann's pitch for the Bayern project.

However, the fee to lure De Ligt away from Juventus may be an issue for Bayern, especially if it is north of £51.7m (€60m).

The 22-year-old Netherlands international has a £103.4m (€120m) release clause in his Juve contract, but it's understood the Italian club would be ready to talk at around £69m (€80m).

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer before the transfer window closes at 11pm on September 1?

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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