Manchester City have announced the departure of Raheem Sterling to Chelsea for a reported fee between £47.5 million and £50 million. The 27-year-old joins the west London side on a five-year deal, with the option of a further year, after seven years at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling will be linking up with Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge, who is understood to have held positive phone conversations with the senior England international that reportedly solidified his desire to leave the Premier League champions in the search for a more prominent role at a club challenging for major honours.
The forward joined City at 20 years old for an initial £44 million, potentially rising to £49 million, from Liverpool in the summer of 2015 ahead of Manuel Pellegrini's final season as manager of the club – and although he did not enjoy the best start to life in Manchester, Pep Guardiola's arrival marked the beginning of a shift in his career that would result in him becoming one of the best attackers in the world.
Sterling has proved instrumental in the trophy-laden success the club has enjoyed since – particularly in the period between 2017 and 2020 before a drop in form and the loss of his undisputable starting berth over the past one and a half to two seasons.
Over his glittering seven-year stay, he won the Premer League title four times, the League Cup five times, the FA Cup once, and the Community Shield twice – scoring 131 goals and assisting a further 94 in 337 appearances across all competitions, including highly-memorable late goals in the Centurions season.
At the end of the 2018/19 season, Sterling was named the Football Writers' Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Young Player of the Year and included in the PFA Team of the Year.
Sterling also went on to become only the third player to score 100+ goals under Guardiola, behind Lionel Messi (211) and Sergio Aguero (124) with his 120 strikes, and also became the player to have played the most games under the Catalan – further emphasising how much of a significant figure he was for Pep over the past six seasons.
However, the past two and a half seasons have seen him lose his almost guaranteed starting berth owing to a drop in form and consistency, and he has not been the go-to option for all of the biggest games as he once was – leading him to seek pastures new ahead of the World Cup at the end of the year.
Chelsea have convinced Sterling they are the place to be with Tuchel's side set to compete for the top honours next season, having the financial muscle to pay his transfer fee and wages, and offering him the chance to move back home to London – where he grew up.
In a heartfelt statement preceding the official club announcements, Sterling said:
"Seven seasons. eleven major trophies, a lifetime of memories.
"To the coaching staff who have played a massive role in my development over the years, to my teammates who have become more than just those I share a pitch with, to the backroom staff, to the office staff, to the fans who have tirelessly supported the team, and to everyone involved with Manchester City, my respect for you couldn't be greater.
"What a ride it's been. I am thankful for the ups and the downs. As it's the downs that have, at times, tested my strength and resolve, and enabled me to stand here in front of you as the best possible version of myself.
"I arrived in Manchester a 20-year-old. Today, I leave as a man. Thank you for your endless support. It's been an honour to wear the shirt of Manchester City."
Director of Football Txiki Begiristain spoke glowingly of the winger and praised his contribution to the club:
"Raheem has been a wonderful servant for Manchester City, and he leaves our club on the best terms possible having helped us win yet another Premier League title. He has played a very important part of the successes we’ve had in recent seasons and his dignity on and off the field has been an inspiration to many. He will be forever part of Manchester City and we wish him well in the next chapter of his career and he departs knowing he will always be welcomed at this football club."
City Report would like to wish Raheem Sterling the very best in the next part of his career and thank him for the contributions he made as a key component in one of the greatest sides English football has ever seen.
Written by: @NA1907_
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