The transfer marker is beginning to heat up and Chelsea have made their first move. The Blues have signed Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, in the type of deal that will become more regular. Top six Premier League clubs will need to deal with each other more often, as other clubs on the continent can’t compete financially. The Sterling deal is one example of this, while Gabriel Jesus’ move to Arsenal is another. It has been spoken about that Chelsea may follow up this move with one for Nathan Ake.
For Chelsea, it is a statement signing and signals what the strategy could be under the new ownership. Sterling is one of the most decorated English players in recent times and he is a key player for the national team. At the age of 27, he should be reaching the peak of his career and he is the type of player that will move the team to a new level. Some have suggested that Chelsea won’t be able to improve by signing Manchester City cast-offs. That is an unfair way of looking at things, as Sterling is a world class player and one that will increase the chances of trophies at Stamford Bridge.
Last season, one of the weaknesses at Chelsea was a lack of a regular goal scorer. It was thought that Romelu Luakau could be that man, but he struggled and scored only eight goals in the Premier League. Chelsea’s top scorer was midfielder Mason Mount with 11. If they are to challenge for the league title, they will need more goals in the team and Thomas Tuchel will hope that Sterling can deliver them.
During the last five seasons, Sterling has scored a total of 78 Premier League goals and he has reached double figures in all of those campaigns. In the last couple of years, his goal-scoring has reduced. However, this has coincided with his own role in the Manchester City squad being reduced. At Chelsea, he is likely to be the key player in attack and get a greater share of the shot volume. His goal-scoring should increase given this bigger role.
The most notable stat is Sterling’s average of 0.51 non-penalty expected goals (npxG) per ninety minutes. This places him in the 99th percentile among forwards and underlines his threat that he carries in the final third. His average of 2.32 shots per ninety minutes ranks in just the 63rd percentile. Sterling is a player that gets into high probability goal-scoring positions, but doesn’t take many shots. It would be expected that he will thrive off the service given by Reece James and Ben Chilwell down the flanks.
Sterling wasn’t a big presser at Manchester City. He averaged 13.97 pressures per ninety minutes, placing him in just the 24th percentile among forwards. It is yet to be known whether he will be expected to do more pressing at Chelsea. It may depend on the formation that Tuchel decides upon.
It will be interesting to see if Chelsea continue to push for major honours under the new ownership. This signing suggests they will, as Sterling has the championship winning mentality. He will also come with a point to prove after being pushed aside at Manchester City.
There are few guarantees in football, especially when it comes to scoring goals. Sterling is as close to one as you can get.