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Chelsea sign Raheem Sterling – what will this mean for next season?

Thomas Tuchel has chosen Raheem Sterling as his new winger but how does Sterling compare to the other big-name wingers that Chelsea were linked to?

Chelsea are rebuilding their attack after Romelu Lukaku failed to shine last season and has now returned to Inter on loan.  Sterling signed with Chelsea for a £47.5m transfer fee; which interestingly is less than the £63m he was valued at on Transfermarkt.

Player Neymar Raheem Sterling Raphinha
Age 30 27 25
Position Brazil England Brazil
Nationality LW/RW/CAM LW/RW RW
Transfer Fee £65 million £63 million £45 million
2021/22 – Goals 13 17 11
2021/22 – Assists 8 9 3
2021/22 – Chances created 61 42 65
2021/21 – top speed 19.95 mph 21.73 mph 21.26 mph
2021/22 – successful dribbles 77 66 59

Raheem Sterling

Sterling has lost his place in the Manchester City set-up, his game time declined last season and he has been replaced by new signings Erling Haaland and Julian Alverez.  The stats that Sterling achieved in less playing time are incredible and indicate that he is heading into his Prime.  Sterling has a very desirable skill set and the ability to make impeccably timed runs leading to attacks on goal.  The quality of his runs are exceptional, setting him apart from other wingers who usually shoot from outside the box. He was the second top scorer in the Manchester City squad in Premier League and the third highest scoring Englishman last season.

Pace and explosiveness are key strengths allowing Sterling to burst into the box, drawing fouls or creating chances. He loves to cut inside from the wing and get goal contributions. Sterling can also play on both right and left wing which is a huge plus point. He excels at one-on-one situations with his raw pace and superb dribbling combining to completely turn defenders inside out.  In March 2022 Sterling had one of his best-ever performances for England against Ivory Coast. He played 62 minutes got one goal, one assist, 2 key passes, 100% dribble completion rate, 9 out of 13 ground duels won and 3 fouls won. This just shows what a special player Sterling is and how he would be a major asset in any team even without much playing time.

Neymar

The Brazilian trickster is an exceptional player, but Paris Saint Germain are looking to offload him in the transfer window as he hasn’t been performing recently.  From Tuchel’s spell managing the French side, we know that he and Neymar had a good relationship with Tuchel.  An excellent dribbler valued at £65m by Transfermarkt, he loves to cut inside and draw fouls where he can use his free-kick ability to whip in crosses or have a crack at goal. Neymar could have been Chelsea’s chief creator judging by the 71 chances he created this season in Ligue 1.  Like Sterling, Neymar is versatile and can play on both sides of the attack.

Tricks and flicks are a big part of Neymar’s game, he is the wizard of football with his wand of a right foot.  He has his own signature touch and every trick in his locker, in fact, he’s probably the trickiest player of all time! He’s also proven in the top European leagues after his spell at Barcelona. Over all competitions, this season Neymar achieved 21 goal contributions, but he’s been dogged by serious injuries which would be a concern for Chelsea.   Neymar has been seen to slack off but he’s got a good relationship with Thomas Tuchel so that wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. The silky Brazilian would have made Chelsea a feared club and sent their shirt sales skyrocketing!!!

Raphinha

The second Brazilian winger linked with Chelsea was the only good thing for Leeds United last season. Arsenal and Barcelona also tabled bids for the Brazilian magician.  Compared to Sterling and Neymar, Raphinha is the lowest cost signing with the most potential, as he is still young. Ever since he joined the Yorkshire Club Raphinha has lit up the Premier League. Leeds fans will be crossing their lucky stars that their brilliant Brazilian didn’t get injured like other key players. He really delivered in the final match of this season, away at Brentford, scoring the last-minute penalty that saved Leeds from relegation!  Raphinha’s closest challenger for goals in the Leeds squad, Jack Harrison, was still 3 goals off him showing how integral he has become to the Leeds team.  Raphinha provided Leeds fans with excitement and exhilaration getting them on their feet!

Raphinha loves to make driving runs at defenders and is totally unpredictable in one-on-one situations as he can cut inside or go down the wing making defending against him extremely difficult. His top speed of 21.26 miles per hour this season is 10th in the Premier League and he’s also in the top ten for crosses showing that he’s good at getting goals and assists. A set piece specialist, Raphinha is one of only fifteen players in the top-flight to score from a free kick.

Conclusion

Best fit ranking for the Premier League and Chelsea:

  1. Sterling
  2. Neymar
  3. Raphinha

In our opinion, Chelsea made the best choice in signing Sterling, he has solid big 6 Premier League Club experience and will be hungry to prove himself after being side-lined at Manchester City last term.  Sterling’s prime season in 2019/2020 was simply amazing, getting 41 goal contributions in all competitions. This shows that Sterling can be a monster and tear apart the Premier League.  Sterling is heading into his prime making it excellent timing for Chelsea to acquire the Londoner.  He will be looking forward to teaming up with Havertz to bring in the goals for Chelsea and demonstrate his form to Gareth Southgate ahead of World Cup squad selection.  Sterling will undoubtedly strengthen Chelsea’s attack, making Mason Mount more of a provider and with the highly rated Kalidou Koulibaly replacing Antonio Rudiger in defence this will help Chelsea maintain their Premier League position next season.

Neymar was linked with Chelsea as he has a close bond with Thomas Tuchel from their time at Paris Saint Germain.  Signing Neymar would have added a global superstar and marquee player to Chelsea, after the exit of Romelu Lukaku.  His samba style would light up Stamford Bridge with techy tricks such as his favourite rainbow flicks, elasticos and nutmegs. However, Neymar is very injury prone and past his prime making him a poor fit for Chelsea, who needed to land a reliable core player for their attack.

Raphinha, in my opinion, is over-priced and, amazingly, he has now been signed for €50m euros (£42m) by Barcelona.  It is unlikely that Raphinha could provide as many goals as Sterling, who beat him on both goals and assists from 5 fewer games last season.  Raphinha does not create big numbers in his stats indicating that he is not quite ready for a big club and is not yet the player to help Chelsea fulfil their ambitions.  It will be interesting to see how he performs at Barcelona and how Leeds effectively can replace him.

Now the deal for Sterling is done, I am looking forward to seeing how, a very motivated Sterling, will perform and improve with more playing time at Chelsea, in the coming season. I am certain that Chelsea will reap the rewards of their decision to sign Sterling, but football is an unpredictable world, so let’s wait and see. It will be interesting to see the challenge that Sterling presents for some of the best Premier League fullbacks including Andrew Robertson and former Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker.  I feel confident that Sterling won’t be another expensive mistake like Lukaku.

All these players are exceptional wingers but Chelsea can’t have all of them so I will provide my verdict. All have amazing stats to back up their case to Thomas Tuchel. So, the most likely to happen in my opinion is Neymar even if the new PSG manager is ready to fight to keep the Brazilian. The defining factors of this move are Neymar’s relationship with Thomas Tuchel and the fact that he has some friends in the Chelsea squad such as Thiago Silva.  However, I think that Sterling would be best for Chelsea because he is less likely to get injured and has Premier League experience.

Article title: Chelsea sign Raheem Sterling – what will this mean for next season?

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