Manchester City have proven their ambition to win back the Premier League title with a big money deal for Raheem Sterling this summer, with the former Liverpool attacker joining Manuel Pellegrini’s men for a £49m fee.
The England international made his desire to leave Anfield clear for months, with the Jamaica-born forward claiming that he is desperate to win silverware- which has been in short supply on Merseyside for a while.
There is no doubting that Sterling has more chance of playing a part in a successful side at City than he would have at Liverpool, but the role that he will play with Pellegrini’s side still remains to be seen.
One of the main benefits Sterling gave the Reds was his versatility, with the youngster able to play in a number of different roles dependent on Brendan Rodgers’ formation, opposition and need for him. Initially a tricky winger due to his searing pace, the Northern Irishman diversified Sterling’s skillset by giving him a chance to play both as a central attacking midfielder and as the furthest man forward in a number nine role.
However, just where Sterling fits into the City system remains to be seen, with ability to feature in a variety of positions intriguing.
Pellegrini prefers to use a 4-2-3-1 system, with a number of players holding down regular roles in attacking positions when fit and available.
With Sergio Aguero City’s undoubted attacking talisman and first-choice number nine for good reason, there is little-to-no chance of Sterling continuing his experiment as a striker any time soon.
David Silva is also the creative enigma that unlocks the substantial abilities of those around him, with the diminutive Spaniard making the Etihad Stadium outfit tick when they have the ball. The former Valencia schemer has the versatility to play in a wide role and drift infield off his wing to get involved centrally.
However, there is no doubt that Silva’s best position is as a No.10, flitting into space behind Aguero and linking up with the Argentina international to unlock opposition defences.
If this partnership is to continue, and it seems likely to, either Pellegrini will have to change his formation to play Sterling centrally, or the new glamour signing will have to go back to playing in a wide position.
Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas have failed to inspire high amounts of confidence over the last 12 months, and as such City could well be eyeing their new superstar signing as the solution.
Sterling has all the attributes to be the best winger in the Premier League, but could playing the England international in a wide role blunt his development as a player?
There is no doubting that the 20-year-old has thrived in central roles and playing in new positions has made Sterling a better player.
Despite his chances of winning silverware at the Etihad Stadium being greater, he may have to sacrifice his own progress and play a more peripheral role on the flank.