Paul Merson has questioned whether Raheem Sterling would be able to replicate the form he shows at Manchester City in a Chelsea shirt. The 27-year-old has been linked with a surprise move to the Blues in recent days, with just over 12 months left on his contract at the Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea are on the hunt for another attacker this summer, with Thomas Tuchel looking to add more firepower to his squad. In addition, the Blues have the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all linked with a move from Stamford Bridge.
Merson, writing in his Daily Star column, has spoken about Chelsea’s attacking situation and the former Arsenal midfielder referred to the Blues’ recent ties to Sterling. However, he believes Sterling is probably a better fit for Manchester City’s attacking style than Chelsea.
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“They need at least a couple of defenders because Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are leaving and they may not be the only ones leaving,” Merson said. “But they are stuck with Romelu Lukaku.
“They won’t be able to sell him without making losses and who could replace him? High quality centre-forwards are rare. They could go for Raheem Sterling but he’s playing the Manchester City way.”
“I don’t think Raheem Sterling will score 20 goals a season for Chelsea. He likes to get into the box late at the far post to tap. This is an art. But I don’t see that ball being flogged across the box that often at Chelsea, so where does it get its goals from?
“I still don’t think Thomas Tuchel knows his best line-up if I’m being honest. He has too many options but not enough of his strikers have made the deal this season. There is no consistency at Chelsea. It doesn’t .” also don’t help, because you can’t build understanding with the players around you.
“That’s Lukaku’s problem too. Admittedly, I don’t think he works hard enough. But he didn’t have the same players around him week after week either. They hack and change. The mentality has to change too, because when they are on it, they are no different from Manchester City and Liverpool.
“They have done better than Liverpool against the top six clubs this season. And Liverpool haven’t been able to beat them in two cup finals. But Liverpool beat the smaller sides and Chelsea lost 4-1 at home to Brentford.”
“They needed a last-minute goal to beat Watford at Stamford Bridge. That tells you that the mentality isn’t right – and the new owners can’t do much about that.”
Man City boss Pep Guardiola has made no secret of his desire for Sterling to stay with the newly crowned Premier League champions, but in February he admitted it was out of his hands. He said, “In the future? I don’t know what will happen.
“The club decides. If the club extends contracts, I give my opinion, but the club makes the decision. Always.”
Sterling himself admitted quite significantly last year that he may need to move away from City to get more regular playing time. Speaking at the FT Business of Sport US Summit, Sterling said, “If there were an opportunity to go elsewhere, [for more game time]I would be open to that at this moment.
“As I said, football is the most important thing for me – challenges I faced from a young age and also dream of playing abroad. As an English player I only know the Premier League and I always had something down (in me) that maybe one day I would like to play abroad to see how I could rise to that challenge. I get on with my work, do what I have to do. And I can’t wait to play football regularly, score goals regularly.
“Ever since I was a little kid football was the most important thing in my life, my happiest I should say. If I want to achieve happiness at a certain level, I have to play football. I have to score goals and have fun.”