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

Raheem Sterling: For Chelsea co-controller Todd Boley, awarding the series title to Raheem Sterling from title rivals would be a good start. Individual terms have been agreed and fees owed to Manchester City are expected to be recognized shortly

Guardiola stood on the touchline in shock, staring into the abyss.

A 56th-minute loss to Aston Villa saw hopes of a fourth Premier League title in five years vanish before their eyes.

An exciting game against Liverpool for supremacy took an unexpected turn when the Manchester City boss turned to the bench and called up Raheem Sterling.

The city lacks a vanguard, but the Catalan knows exactly who to turn to when he needs it.

Sterling is a player often criticized for his shooting, but his role in turning City’s fortunes around in their dramatic final-day comeback in May cannot be overstated.

The city will fall further behind until Sterling gets to work.

He led Lucas Digne, using Gabriel Jesus as bait, to slide past the starting quarterback to the bottom line. There was still a lot of work to do, but the winger delivered a pinpoint cross that dissected Villa’s remaining three defenders and placed the ball over Marty Cash’s head. Ilkay Gundogan just needs to meet him to trigger a reaction.

It was the first of three goals to clinch the title in five minutes.

Guardiola has always admired Sterling’s courage and his influence has always challenged his importance. No player has made more Premier League appearances than Sterling’s 194 since the manager was appointed at the start of the 2016/17 season. No Manchester City player has scored more than 85 goals.

Speaking in February, after the winger’s hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Norwich, Guardiola said: “I’ve known Raheem for six seasons. I know him very well. This season he was in goals, assists, and contributions to the team.

“There are ups and downs during this period. It’s part of life. The team is not on a honeymoon period. There are problems and we have to fix them.

“Nobody doubts his importance. He is showing that. All I want is for all the players to play well.

“If we count the number of games he’s played since we were together, it’s a lot. He’s a foundational player. The future? I don’t know what’s going to happen. The club decides.

“When the club extends the contract, I give my opinion, but the club always makes a decision.”

The last sentence is inaccurate. For all Pep’s clichés, Sterling has had his ups and downs at City and it’s unclear what his legacy will be.

It’s not entirely surprising that Chelsea has officially expressed interest in him. With uncertainty surrounding his future at the Etihad Stadium, Thomas Tuchel is ready to test Manchester City’s resolve.

Sterling has a year left to fulfill his £300,000-a-week contract. Manchester City paid £49m to sign him from Liverpool in 2015, but his seven-year tenure will soon come to an end.

Liverpool has revamped the peloton and Jurgen Klopp’s side is not the only one pushing for a methodical development. Erling Haaland is both present and future, and while some have already questioned whether the Norwegian is a fit for Guardiola, selling Sterling would further signal a shift in attacking style

Jack Grealish, who completed his first season after a £100m move last summer, will now stand out even more. Julian Alvarez, from River Plate, will be part of Guardiola. Jesus joins Arsenal for £45m.

Raheem Sterling:

Cities are growing and Stirling could be the next step. Leeds midfielder Calvin Phillips has signed, with Brighton left-back Mark Cucurella a top summer target. Guardiola can foresee at least one of Sterling, Gundogan, Zinchenko, and Bernardo Silva, and maybe more will leave.

Sterling has always been a purple player. Mourinho has used a bottle of ketchup waiting to explode as a metaphor for Manchester United’s Lukaku, and the same applies to Sterling in the past.

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

Neither player is guaranteed a place under Guardiola, and Sterling will go through a similar rotation if he moves to Stamford Bridge. He will replace his mentor with another perfectionist.

He will replace Phil Foden, Grealish, Jesus, and Riyad Mahrez, along with Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Timo Werner compete. He will no longer confirm the minutes of the meeting. As Lukaku discovered, there are no guarantees.

Tuchel’s patch is almost as famous as Pep’s roulette, but Brent’s boys grew up within sight of the famous Wembley Arch and a return to the capital is something to please all parties.

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