After a turbulent season, the acquisition of Raheem Sterling marks the beginning of a new era for Chelsea FC.
Last summer, the Blues stood as the kings of Europe. The Champions League title from 2020/21 is just the second in the club’s history. Like their opponents in that final, Manchester City, Chelsea relied on a false nine system. Fluid movement among the frontline created goal-scoring opportunities. To add a dynamic level to the side, Chelsea acquired Romelu Lukaku. The proven marksman entered his prime after winning the Scudetto with Inter Milan while finishing among Serie A’s top scorers in both seasons there.
The plan did not work. Lukaku scored just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances. Worse off, his most memorable moment came in an interview with Sky Italia. The Belgian spoke of his dream to return to Inter after struggling to adapt to Thomas Tuchel’s system at Stamford Bridge. Eventually, Chelsea granted that wish. He moved back to Inter for this upcoming season on a loan deal.
A new age at Chelsea
Todd Boehly’s takeover at the club gives Thomas Tuchel more control over transfers. Moreover, longtime chief executive Marina Granovskaia decided to step down from her position as part of the overhaul at Stamford Bridge. Now, Boehly searches for a new sporting director. Simultaneously, he decided to handle negotiations.
His first major move is bringing Raheem Sterling to Chelsea.
Raheem Sterling fits Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea
Sterling’s move displays Tuchel’s plan for the upcoming season. Tuchel plans on returning to the false 9 system. Forwards can interchange with each other in the final third seamlessly. Sterling, with a diminutive frame, quick feet and a strong finish, can mold nicely into this goal. The 5’7 forward is strong for his size. He used that strength to hold up play at both Liverpool and Manchester City. Plus, he accomplished it in a front two with the England national team.
Raheem Sterling may not be in the headlines for the best player in the Premier League. Regardless, he showed that, under the right situation, he can be successful. For example, he is Pep Guardiola’s second most-prolific player in the Spaniard’s managerial career. Sterling’s 186 goal contributions are second to only Lionel Messi, with 291. Oftentimes, Sterling’s biggest flaw is blunders in the penalty box. Even then, his ability to remain consistent in playing over 30 league matches over the past nine seasons is remarkable.
Joe Cole, a former teammate of Sterling, knows that his former side gets from the Englishman.
“His dynamism, he makes things happen, his running behind. He is a fantastic timer of runs into the box and is technically very good. Raheem Sterling can take a man out with his dribbling which is vital. He is an all-rounder, he gets goals, he makes goals. He makes a difference in big games, that’s what we need,” Cole told ChelseaFC.com.
Concluding the 2021/22 campaign, Sterling had just one year left on his contract at the Etihad. Consequently, City cashed in on his services for a $59 million transfer to Chelsea.
Other reinforcements for Tuchel
Chelsea tried to add more explosiveness to its attack this offseason. First off, it targeted Leeds winger Raphinha. In fact, the Blues and the Whites agreed to a fee of $65 million. However, the Brazil international refused to the move, instead opting for Camp Nou and Barcelona. The 25-year-old officially joined the Blaugrana on the same day the Blues announced their Sterling signing.
The glaring hole for Chelsea entering the transfer window was central defense. It lost two key players, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger, to free agency. that needs to be patched up in Chelsea’s squad is central defense. They lost two key players to free agency. Andreas Christensen is now at Barcelona and Antonio Rudiger is at Real Madrid. Tuchel experimented with the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 at times during the last campaign. Now, it seems he continues to rely on his trusted back five in the upcoming season.
According to a variety of reports, Chelsea is close to signing Napoli center-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The estimated fee hovers around $38 million. Also, Chelsea is in the hunt for another Manchester City player. Nathan Ake is the center back option, who is actually a product of Chelsea’s academy. Finally, Paris-Saint Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe could be another option at Stamford Bridge, should a deal formalize.
Malang Sarr and Trevoh Chalobah have potential, but both lack game experience. Also, Thiago Silva turns 38 in September, so new defenders are required.
There are 33 players who have scored at least 100 goals in Premier League history. Chelsea let one go temporarily in Lukaku and signed another one to spearhead their attack in a completely different way, Sterling. City and Liverpool respectively signing Erling Haaland and Darwin Núñez marks their intent to get bigger and more physical in their attack with conventional strikers.
Chelsea is going the other way. It’ll be interesting to see if the plan works.
PHOTO: Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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