Click here for part 1
Photo Credit: Raheem Sterling Twitter
Raheem Shaquille Sterling, just like Gabriel Jesus, had also had a season which wasn’t personally his best and has somewhat raised questions of his role as a guaranteed starter in matches for Manchester City. Since arriving from Liverpool in 2015, He is undoubtedly one of most important players for the defending Premier League champions. In a team that has no shortage of talented attacking midfielders, Sterling has consistently held down his place in the starting XI. Last season, his 20 league goals represented 17% of City’s total scoring—and his propensity for converting late winners saved Pep’s side on multiple occasions. He does possess the finishing quality of a top class forward, for instance, or the creativity of someone like former Spaniard David Silva, but his intelligent play and movement on the flank drags defenders around and creates space for his teammates. While the goals and assists get him on lists like this, the defensive side of his game should not go underappreciated as City’s success under Guardiola has been built on winning the ball back as soon as it is lost, and over the past four seasons, he ranks seventh for most tackles and ball recoveries in the City squad with only Fernandinho has more fouls.
Even though Sterling is one of those absolute top-level player, his opponents have off lately discovered flaws in his game of late which has more to do his striking issues involving taking poor and clumsy touches and performing less incisive runs recently which, turns conversion of some great opportunities to put City ahead or make them comeback into matches where they trail, where the percentages were loaded in his favour, into reality a difficult one to execute. His inconsistent form due to drop in performances had also been much of a concern for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City squad particularly when his contract is up for renewal in next 2 years. It is highly possible - and plausible - that the flow and cohesion of Guardiola’s side at their best has a multiplying effect on Sterling, too; that it brings out more in his game. It’s all just more seamless. City used to create so many chances, and so bombard teams, that it was inevitable he would score so much more which would in turn will creates more confidence and more goals. City are now suffering the opposite and Raheem Sterling has been the centre of this mess.
His decline coincides with the loss of Mikel Arteta to Arsenal as we. The former City assistant coach worked closely with the No.7 and perhaps his departure has had an adverse impact on the versatile forward. Over this period, Sterling's expected goals average has dropped to 0.43 per 90. That figure shows he's still getting into dangerous areas on a regular basis. His post-shot expected goals average, however, explains why he's now under intense scrutiny.
Sterling's finishing is letting him down. He's devaluing his efforts by 0.28 on a per 90 basis. He's only taking 0.5 fewer shots per 90 and still having a high number of touches in the opposition's penalty area. The expected goals average of 0.43 shows he's still getting opportunities to score the goals but it appears to be him having issues putting the ball into the back of the net. Sterling may be getting into good areas but his finishing has been atrocious. Sterling has always been a volume player but has never been described as ‘clinical' in the sense of one goal/shot. Playing in a rampant City side has papered over his wastefulness at times and now, with service a little scarcer than what he's used to; his finishing is exposed as well. Sterling is not in the highest of spirits at the moment, according to sources close to the squad, which is in part understandable and inevitable given he isn’t playing, but it is also thought to be due to the events around. Other than, even though Sterling and Guardiola have denied that there was any sort of row following rumours on the internet about their fallout leading to Guardiola pushing him behind the pecking order, but it is quite clear that something went on which was clearly reflected in his performances.
It is safe to say that he belongs in this club of top Premier league players. Despite all the noise and all the genuine struggles, he is a Premier League great and his stats over the four six seasons have been testament to this fact. Sterling is definitely not in the highest of spirits at the moment, which is in part understandable and inevitable given he isn’t playing but still he could be a valuable asset to the club given he is just 27 years of age and tying him down to a long term contract would make sense to secure his value as a player and asset for the club.The only thing left to be determined is how high up this list he will be at the end of his career. Also, even if Sterling were to consider his future at Manchester City and opts to leave the club, then he might not find it so easy to move this summer due to Europe’s top clubs struggling financially.
Click here for part 1