As Chelsea move closer to offloading Romelu Lukaku, Raheem Sterling has emerged because the prime candidate to exchange the Belgian striker.
With the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez threatening to decrease Sterling’s function, one which has already lowered in recent times, the 27-year-old appears eager to affix Thomas Tuchel’s facet and safe his spot in England’s World Cup squad.
Lukaku is a really totally different profile of ahead to Sterling and whereas the latter has proven he’s able to enjoying as a false 9, his arrival within the midst of Lukaku’s exit alerts Tuchel’s need to change the dynamic of his frontline.
The first motive Lukaku did not ignite for Chelsea, in the identical method he did for Inter Milan, was Tuchel’s desire for a slower, possession-based sport. His runs in behind weren’t discovered with the sort of direct, back-to-front passes he beforehand thrived on, and Lukaku suffered from a scarcity of alternatives in transition given the Blues’ tendency to dominate the ball.
Chelsea appeared higher with Kai Havertz enjoying at quantity 9, interchanging with the remainder of the entrance three and collaborating in fast interchanges of passing in tight areas to create probabilities.
This type of attacking soccer is what Tuchel first applied when he arrived at Chelsea and because the final yr has proven, he appears extra inclined to enhance upon this mannequin, moderately than adapt it to go well with a distinct sort of ahead.
Sterling is a significantly better match for the profile of ahead Tuchel appears to favor. He’s performed in quite a lot of roles and positions, that includes within the gap behind a entrance two, as a second striker, a left winger, proper winger, and false 9. Such versatility is a testomony to the vary of technical skills Sterling possesses in addition to his tactical acumen.
𝘽𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙤𝙛…Raheem Sterling! 🌟
— Manchester Metropolis (@ManCity) June 21, 2022
His spatial consciousness is his strongest asset. Sterling excels at discovering pockets of house inside the opposition defensive construction to obtain and carry the ball. His dribbling over lengthy distances is spectacular, enabling him to drop deep and make prolonged forays ahead himself.
Whereas much less of a characteristic at Manchester Metropolis, for Liverpool and England he has additionally proven his unbelievable shut management in additional congested, central areas over shorter distances. Sterling is due to this fact a helpful asset in disrupting deeper sitting defences, able to commanding the eye of a number of markers and creating house for different gamers.
Sterling’s motion can also be vital to his affect upon his groups. Whereas he’s usually derided for his poor ending, he stays remarkably constant along with his goalscoring output because of the clever runs he makes in behind and forward of the ball. His acceleration permits him to loiter within the field and time his run to perfection, beginning properly behind opposition defenders within the field earlier than bursting past them to achieve close-range pictures at objective.
He’s additionally an underrated presence bodily. Sterling is remarkably efficient at retaining possession underneath strain and driving opposition challenges. His mixture of energy and pace, alongside along with his aforementioned tactical consciousness, makes him an especially forceful presser.
Maybe the largest pitfall in Sterling’s sport is his decision-making. His alternative and execution on sure passes might be suspect, whereas he can usually be overeager to hold the ball himself and lose possession in site visitors. Beneath Pep Guardiola, he benefitted tremendously from being given an especially detailed tactical construction which gave him higher steering in making attacking choices.
Most non-penalty objectives scored within the Premier League for Chelsea for the reason that begin of the 2017/18 season:
◉ 22 – Eden Hazard
◉ 22 – Mason Mount
◉ 21 – Tammy Abraham
Raheem Sterling has scored greater than all three mixed in that point (75). 💪 pic.twitter.com/OabSoLadcN
— Squawka (@Squawka) June 19, 2022
This isn’t to say Sterling is poor when such element shouldn’t be given to him: he thrived for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool in a staff predicated on extra instinctive, fast counter-attacks. Nevertheless, to get the perfect out of Sterling, he must be seen as a part inside a broader system moderately than a participant who’s constructed round or who’s going to conjure up game-changing moments alone.
Tuchel is a perfect coach for him on this respect. In Chelsea’s 3-4-3, Sterling might play wherever throughout the entrance three and would have a clearly outlined function underneath Tuchel. His transition to the staff’s urgent and possession calls for can be easy, given similarities between Guardiola and Tuchel.
Sterling provides Chelsea a wonderful off-ball presence who can disrupt opposition defences with astute motion, and can assist ameliorate their struggles towards deep sitting defences. His arrival means somebody like Kai Havertz can focus extra on creating from deep moderately than performing a task as each a inventive presence and the facet’s major goalscorer.
Sterling might not be a prolific goalscorer or an out-and-out quantity 9, however he ought to give Chelsea a dependable supply of objectives and, crucially, go well with Thomas Tuchel’s attacking system.
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