Raheem Sterling: A player that divides opinion but can he bring the firepower in attack that Chelsea need?

As Chelsea Football Club enters a new era under the watchful eye of Todd Boehly, the transfer rumour mill has been one of the most insane in recent memory. From De Ligt to Ronaldo, Skriniar to Neymar, but there is one name that seems the most prominent and one that divides the most opinions in the Chelsea fanbase – Raheem Sterling.

We begin with a question: Why are so many people against signing a player of Sterling’s quality?

This is a man that has scored 109 goals in 320 Premier League appearances, captained England and has been one of his country’s most consistent players over the past couple of years.

People have been quick to dismiss Sterling due the feeling that he had been cast out of most of Pep Guardiola’s starting XIs last season with Riyadh Mahrez and Phil Foden ahead of him in the pecking order. However, looking at the stats, 23 starts in the league with what we know about Pep’s eagerness to rotate his team is not something to be sniffed at, especially when you look at the quality of attacking options City have at their disposal.

Another argument against Sterling is his tendency to miss big chances, something that Chelsea supporters will feel sick to the stomach with after their current attacking options had their fair share of scoring struggles last season, resulting in big points being dropped.

Number of chances missed by Chelsea attackers last season (image courtesy of Facebook)
Raheem Sterling’s shot outcomes from 2020/21 (image courtesy of Sky Sports)

51 big chances missed across the front line of a team wanting to fight for a title is not ideal and it seems Sterling has also had his fair share of missing good opportunities (above), but 13 goals amidst all those chances could be looked at as a positive for Chelsea when they desperately need some regular potency from the flanks after being deprived of goals in that area for so long. With all 13 of his goals coming from inside the area, that poacher-style scorer is certainly something else Chelsea could benefit from as well as his directness when taking the ball forward.

Sterling’s 0.48 non penalty goals per 90 since 2015/16 is the fourth highest in the Premier League and for him to still be in that position with his league minutes decreasing year on year since 2018/19, its not a bad record to have.

Many times over the years, Chelsea have spent big money on forward players from abroad in the hope they will slot in seamlessly and hit the ground running at SW6 – Werner, Ziyech and Pulisic to name a few recent ones, but it has taken a long time, if at all, for these players to find their feet and perform to the best of their abilities. In comes Boehly and the focus on transfers has shifted slightly – it seems the club are starting to look at making moves within the Premier League, where there is more assurance that these signings are much more likely to fit in and be successful from the off, so they won’t have to take as much time to adapt to a new league environment.

Sterling’s ability to play centrally should also not be undermined – in 28 games as a centre forward for City, he has scored 14 goals and notched up six assists, not a bad return and we know that versatility is something Thomas Tuchel likes.

The scouring of the league for new talent to reinvigorate this Chelsea attack isn’t just a one-off with Sterling either – the past couple of days has seen the club inch ever closer to snapping up Leeds’ want-away winger Raphinha, who if he arrives at Stamford Bridge along with Sterling, will bring some much needed flair and confidence to Chelsea’s inconsistent front line.

A Premier League proven wideman is something the Blues will benefit hugely from and it is no secret that Tuchel is an admirer of the City man, so if the German wants him, getting him to Chelsea should be a no-brainer.

If Sterling arrives at Chelsea for the rumoured fee of around £35-40m, it is a deal that I feel should be welcomed with open arms. Sterling is still in his prime at 27 years of age and with the pedigree and talent he possesses for both club and country, he is a signing whose announcement will surely be worth the wait.

Written and Edited by Luka Foley (@UOGLuka)

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