Thomas Tuchel has achieved his "top priority" for the transfer window by signing Raheem Sterling, while the Chelsea head coach cannot foresee Robert Lewandowski arriving.

Sterling joined Manchester City for a reported fee in the region of £45million on Wednesday, as Chelsea confirmed their first signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the Blues.

The England international, who signed a five-year deal with Chelsea, scored 17 goals in all competitions for City last season, a tally bettered by only Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has also been linked to Stamford Bridge, alongside Barcelona's top target Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in all competitions last term, the most of any player across Europe's top five leagues, and Tuchel appreciates his quality but does not envisage bringing him in.

"I don't think we have a chance for Lewandowski but if there is a chance, he is one of the best number nines," said Tuchel.

"The priority is not on the number nine position right now. We have our top priority [Sterling], we have got our top priority signed. It makes me very, very happy and from there we are very flexible.

"He was the absolute number one for that position. I gave his name to Todd straight away. Every time we played against him, he's horrible to play against, horrible!

"The main point is his intensity and the amount of repetition of intensity that he delivers. This is simply outstanding over the last years.

"It's exactly what we need to raise the level of our players. That's why we are so sure and that's why he was, for us, top of the list.

"Our goal threat should be enough right now. If we think something crazy comes up that we don’t see, maybe we will get involved, maybe not."

 

The versatile Sterling is expected to bring experience to the Chelsea attack, a feature lacking at the back for the Blues after the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Cesar Azpilicueta is reportedly wanted by Barca as well, while Chelsea appear set to bring in Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to somewhat fill the void in defence.

The minimum requirement for success under Boehly will be a top-four Premier League finish to qualify for the Champions League, and Tuchel acknowledged he must rebuild to develop a competitive squad.

"I think with Thiago [Silva] in the middle, Toni on the left and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] or Andreas [on the right] we had the best back-three in the world," he added.

"It's possible [to rebuild at short notice]. We can, we have to. I think we can put a structure in place and we have a structure on which we can rely on.

"For example, if we play against Everton, Thiago can play, Trevoh Chalobah can hopefully play, and Azpi is at the moment here. 

"If there are guys still to be signed or not fully aware of the principles, I don't want to use it as an excuse. When I came in, I had one day to start with the back-three because it was a fit and I still think it will be a fit.

"The first 10 days or 11 days with the group have been outstanding. The mentality, worth ethic and quality in training is absolutely impressive and this makes me very happy.

"I want to be ready when we play Everton. I want to win and I will demand it from myself, my team and all my players.

"The team will be strong. I am not ready to use it as an excuse even though it is maybe true that we are in transition. We can, I can focus, I think the team can focus on what makes us strong and we can take it step by step and work out how to win games."

While Chelsea made their long-awaited first signing in Sterling, top-four rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have all been busy in the transfer window.

Tuchel was quick to hail the transfer dealings of Antonio Conte, who looks set to seal his sixth signing of the transfer window in Djed Spence, and conceded Chelsea will have to catch up with their competitors.

"I mean it when I said we fight against the best teams and the best coaches, which does not make life easier and they set the bar so high last season, but we start again from scratch," said Tuchel. 

"So we will try again. I can promise you that everybody is ready to try again. We will not give in before we play games. That's why the sanctions did not help. We lost important players and the other teams are recruiting, and did not have the losses that we had.

"If you look at the transfer period of Tottenham with Antonio Conte, it's maybe the strongest team they ever built. Manchester United will not give in, Arsenal will not give in, they've made two big signings already, so we are aware of the situation and try to do our best to be competitive."

Conor Gallagher has no plans of leaving Chelsea this transfer window, labelling the upcoming season as the season to make his breakthrough after support from Thomas Tuchel.

Gallagher is yet to make a Premier League appearance for boyhood club Chelsea, though he has impressed on his last two top-flight loan spells with West Brom and Crystal Palace.

The England international managed 11 goal involvements in the 2021-22 season with Palace, a tally bettered only by Wilfried Zaha (15) for Patrick Vieira's side in the league.

With the upcoming Qatar World Cup in November, Gallagher understands the importance of regular first-team minutes in the 2022-23 season as he looks to make his mark at Stamford Bridge.

N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount are among his midfield competitors at Chelsea, but Gallagher expects to be in the running for the starting XI.

"I feel like this is the season," he told reporters. "I've been a Chelsea fan my whole life, my family have, it's been a dream to play [for Chelsea] but I want to try and impress, and play as much football as I can and affect the game when I'm on the pitch.

"[Tuchel] said he wants me to be part of the squad and to prove myself in pre-season, so that's the plan. I'm happy with that and just willing to work as hard as I can to prove to him that I can play for Chelsea.

"It's what I wanted to hear, it was a nice phone call that we had and it gave me a clear plan of pre-season and where I'm going to be. It was great to hear."

Gallagher was quick to credit the influence of Vieira at Palace, expressing his gratitude for the efforts the coaching staff at Selhurst Park made to improve him.

Tuchel has added more international experience to his ranks, with England international Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea, and Gallagher hopes to improve alongside world-class players.

"Everyone wants to play as much as they can, but I'm willing to work as hard as I can to be on the pitch as much as possible," Gallagher said.

"There's world-class players in the squad and it's obviously a tough team to get into, but I feel like if that challenge is there, I think I'd be a bit silly not to take it," he added.

"With Chelsea being my club as well that I've supported, it's very exciting.

"I'm very keen [to play at the World Cup] because every English player wants to play for England and in a World Cup would be very special. And of course, it's very important that I'll be playing games and performing.

"The call-up was a very proud moment, for sure. But it didn't change the way I thought of myself or anything.

"It was nice to get that recognition and belief from the manager. It's very important to stay humble and do everything you can to perform well."

Mount was one of the first Chelsea players to welcome the arrival of Sterling on Wednesday, and Gallagher echoed his team-mate's sentiments as he reflected on the experience the forward will bring to the side.

"I think it's brilliant. It will only benefit Chelsea and himself," Gallagher said of the Sterling signing.

"Everyone's very excited for him to be playing and I know the fans are very excited as well. He's a great professional, very relaxed off the pitch, and does the right things.

"I feel like the young lads feel like they can talk to him as well because he's got a lot of experience in England and in the Premier League. So yeah, it's a massive signing, and I'm sure he's going to do his thing when he's here."

Thomas Tuchel says Raheem Sterling is a "huge asset" for Chelsea and hopes the forward can shape the team "by just being who he is".

Chelsea confirmed the signing of Sterling from Premier League rivals Manchester City on Wednesday in a deal reported to be in the region of £45million.

Sterling arrives with plenty of pedigree, having won 10 major honours across seven seasons with City, whom he joined after a three-year spell as a Liverpool first-team regular.

He is the first signing of the Todd Boehly era, and Tuchel has high hopes for the 77-cap England international at Stamford Bridge.

"Hopefully he shapes our team by just being who he is," Tuchel told BBC Sport. "He will be a huge asset for us.

"He's a huge player, with a huge influence in the last years in English football and is at a perfect age to now take responsibility around young players we have and be an example.

"Getting what he delivered for years given his age, his hunger for responsibility, and his style of play and his amount of intensity is outstanding.

"It is the benchmark in the Premier League and is exactly what we need."

Sterling, who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium, has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals for City in all competitions last season, a tally bettered only by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Chelsea's transfer business is unlikely to stop there, with Kalidou Koulibaly and the club's former defender Nathan Ake both expected to join before the window closes.

And Tuchel, who saw his side lose to Liverpool in both domestic cup finals last season, is having a bigger say in transfer activity under the club's new American owners.

"The relationship [with the owners] is very intense, very close, which it has to be," he said from Chelsea's pre-season training base in Los Angeles.

"Without Petr [Cech] and without Marina [Granovskaia], it's a big change in the daily structure and communication. I'm a lot more involved. 

"I have to step up in terms of responsibility. I think in the long term or even when the close of the pre-season comes, I will want to be more on the coaching role again.

"But right now it's important to improve our team, to bring players in to stay competitive because we want to compete for a minimum of top four. 

"Given the fact that Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United act on the transfer market for weeks and months, we need to be smart, we need to be fast and we need to find solutions. It's my job to help."

Chelsea face Mexican side Club America in their opening pre-season friendly on Saturday, before taking on Charlotte FC, Arsenal and Udinese.

Mason Mount labelled new Chelsea signing Raheem Sterling as a "winner" and "experienced" pro, who can fill a leadership void and help the Blues compete for trophies on all fronts.

Sterling arrived from Manchester City for a reported fee in the region of £45million on Wednesday, as Chelsea announced their first signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club.

The England international joins his new Chelsea team-mates in the United States on their pre-season tour, having signed a five-year deal with Thomas Tuchel's side.

Only Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19) scored mores times in all competitions than Sterling (17) last season for City, but Mount says it is not just the forward's ability that will be vital for Chelsea.

"He's a top guy, such an experienced player, top class pro," Mount told Sky Sports.

"I've obviously been lucky to play with him over the last couple of years with England where he has captained the team at times, and he is someone who has been there for a very long time.

"When did he make his debut, 17, 18? So, he's a top player and I've learnt a lot from him over the last few years.

"For him to be joining us it is only going to bring our levels higher, he's definitely someone who strives for high levels to win and that's what we want.

"We want those players around this group and I'm very excited to see him and for him to be here."

Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger head the outgoings at Chelsea this transfer window, with Romelu Lukaku joining Inter on loan and Barcelona reportedly interested in Cesar Azpilicueta.

With numerous key figures departing Stamford Bridge, Mount believes Sterling can take a leadership role for Tuchel's side as they chase domestic and European glory.

"I think obviously we have lost a few that are leaders, and I think he is coming in and he will be someone that is going to lead, be a big presence," Mount added.

"He'll be a big personality, that's what he's like but he's only going to make us better so I'm very excited.

"He's a winner and us as a team, we want to keep striving for that so hopefully we can win some things together."

Sterling may get his first action in a Chelsea shirt against Club America on Sunday before follow-up fixtures against Charlotte FC and rivals Arsenal.

Tuchel's side then conclude their pre-season preparations with a clash against Udinese, before their Premier League opener at Everton on August 6.

Raheem Sterling has completed his move to Chelsea from Premier League rivals Manchester City, the Blues have confirmed.

The England forward moves for a reported fee in the region of £45million and is Chelsea's first major signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club.

Sterling – who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium – has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's team last season, a tally only bettered by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19), as they conducted a successful defence of their title.

But an exit for the England star always looked possible after City signed Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, with fellow attacker Gabriel Jesus also being allowed to join a Premier League rival in Arsenal earlier this month.

Now, Sterling will link up with Thomas Tuchel's side for their pre-season tour of the United States, as they look to build on a third-placed finish last season.

"First and foremost, it's a pleasure to be here," Sterling told Chelsea's official website.

"I've obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I'm really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas's management.

"London is my home and where it all started for me, and it's amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I'm really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.

"I do want to take the opportunity to thank Todd, Behdad, the ownership group, Thomas, and all involved in the process of getting me here.

"I can't wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch."

Sterling's move will see him return to London, where he grew up and spent time in QPR's youth system before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old.

The forward, a key part of the England side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final, will hope a move to Stamford Bridge provides a guarantee of first-team football ahead of the World Cup in Qatar after he started just 23 of City's 38 league games last season.

Sterling won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four EFL Cups in Manchester after joining from Liverpool in 2015.

Kevin De Bruyne led the Manchester City players wishing Raheem Sterling well after the winger completed his move to Chelsea.

With City having bolstered their fearsome attack with the additions of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, Sterling has joined Gabriel Jesus in heading for pastures new – both men moving to London.

Whereas Jesus has gone to Arsenal, Sterling has made for the west side of the capital, joining Chelsea in a deal reportedly worth £45million.

The England forward has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea, who were in need of another attacker after loaning Romelu Lukaku back to Inter less than a year after his return to Stamford Bridge for a club-record fee.

Sterling scored 17 goals in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's team last season, a tally only bettered by Riyad Mahrez (24) and De Bruyne (19), who was among those City players to use their social media channels to congratulate the 27-year-old.

"We came seven years ago together to this club to win trophies together and play good football and we achieved that," De Bruyne posted on Instagram.

"Was a pleasure to play with you. Wishing you all the best in future bro @sterling7."

Sterling replied: "Was a pleasure bro."

Jack Grealish, City's record signing, posted a good luck message to his fellow England international to his Instagram story.

Riyad Mahrez wrote "countless memories, will miss you brother" on his Instagram story, while Aymeric Laporte also uploaded a post.

Sterling leaves City having made at least 46 appearances in each of his seven seasons at the club, scoring a total of 91 Premier League goals.

Raheem Sterling has completed his move to Chelsea from Premier League rivals Manchester City, the Blues have confirmed.

The England forward moves for a reported £45million fee and is Chelsea's first major signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club.

Sterling – who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium, has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's team last season, a tally only bettered by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19), as they conducted a successful defence of their title.

But an exit for the England star always looked possible after City signed Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, with fellow attacker Gabriel Jesus also being allowed to join a Premier League rival in Arsenal earlier this month.

Now, Sterling will link up with Thomas Tuchel's side for their pre-season tour of the United States, as they look to build on a third-placed finish last season.

"First and foremost, it's a pleasure to be here," Sterling told Chelsea's official website.

"I've obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I'm really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas's management.

"London is my home and where it all started for me, and it's amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I'm really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.

"I do want to take the opportunity to thank Todd, Behdad, the ownership group, Thomas, and all involved in the process of getting me here.

"I can't wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch."

Sterling's move will see him return to London, where he grew up and spent time in QPR's youth system before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old.

The forward, a key part of the England side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final, will hope a move to Stamford Bridge provides a guarantee of first-team football ahead of the World Cup in Qatar after he started just 23 of City's 38 league games last season.

Sterling won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four EFL Cups in Manchester after joining from Liverpool in 2015.

Transfers between the Premier League's so-called 'big six' have become something of a rarity in recent years, but the trend has re-emerged with Raheem Sterling's switch to Chelsea.

The Blues confirmed on Wednesday that Sterling has moved to Stamford Bridge on a five-year contract, with Manchester City accepting a reported £45million offer for the England international.

He made at least 46 appearances in each of his seven seasons at City, yet it was claimed Pep Guardiola was unable to provide assurances over his playing time next term.

That, apparently, is what led to Sterling seeking an exit, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea appear a fine fit stylistically.

With that in mind, it's a deal that will perplex many, given how important Sterling has been for City over the course of his stay in Manchester.

On top of that, City appear to be strengthening a team who would regard themselves direct rivals of the Premier League champions.

Sterling hasn't depreciated this significantly since Brexit, with City taking a sizeable risk wilfully offloading such a player.

A transformed talent

It would be fair to suggest Sterling has been a little inconsistent over the past two years, with his respective goals hauls of 14 and 17 across all competitions a bit of a drop-off.

Yet both of those are respectable figures and only serve to highlight just how good Sterling – very much approaching his peak at 27 years old – can be in the right context.

After modest returns in his first two years at the club, Sterling hit 20-plus goals in three successive campaigns, including 31 in 52 games in the 2019-20 season.

 

With Chelsea allowing Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter and the underwhelming Timo Werner seemingly available for transfer, the Blues are crying out for a dependable source of goals. Sterling could be that player.

While Guardiola's management style may be what's made Sterling look for pastures new, it was also the Catalan's coaching that helped transform Sterling into the player he is now.

As mentioned, Sterling was nowhere near as decisive at Liverpool or in his first two years at City as he has been over the past five years. Of course, part of that can be explained simply by development and progression. After all, he was 20 when he left the Reds.

 

But Guardiola's coaching, and how he has utilised Sterling, shouldn't be glossed over. Since he became City coach in 2016, Sterling has scored 27 Premier League goals from inside the six-yard box, which is five more than anyone else (Harry Kane, 22).

He knows how to be in the right place at the right time, and that requires supreme intelligence.

No one-trick pony

The fact Sterling's been able to make himself such a goalmouth threat despite not being regarded as an out-and-out striker is impressive, and it speaks to his well-roundedness as an attacker.

Under Guardiola, he's essentially averaged a goal every other game (one every 179 minutes) in the Premier League, with his haul of 85 bettered by only five players since the start of the 2016-17 season.

 

But his creativity shouldn't be ignored. Over the same period, he has laid on 296 chances for team-mates. That sees him ranked 10th overall in the Premier League.

Additionally, only three players have a better expected assists (xA) record than Sterling (34) since August 2017 (when Opta started collecting the data), and two of those are regular set-piece takers.

Sterling's strengths don't begin and end there, though. 

He's quick, strong despite his size, a leader and clearly very experienced. On his last Premier League appearance for City, he was aged 27 years and 165 days – only four players have had more Premier League goal involvements at that age than Sterling.

 

Just 11 players in Premier League history have reached 200 goal involvements, and he's already only 35 off that. In fact, he's potentially just one very good season from reaching the milestone.

Of course, it shouldn't be just blindly accepted that Sterling will be an incredible signing for Chelsea. They've had their fair share of expensive flops over the years, with Lukaku the most recent – few expected him to have such a minimal impact.

But Sterling's tremendous arsenal of attributes may give him greater scope to be influential. Maybe he won't create as much, but he could still be a primary goal threat, and he also appears to be a good fit for the kind of high-tempo football Tuchel likes to play. 

The over-riding feeling is that Sterling's sale suggests a degree of underappreciation for him, particularly given City aren't selling him for anything more than they paid seven years ago.

Chelsea, on the other hand, appear to be getting a bargain.

Raheem Sterling says he leaves Manchester City "as a man" as he bid farewell to the club ahead of his transfer to Chelsea.

Sterling is set to end his seven-year association with City and join Premier League rivals Chelsea in a reported £50m move.

The former Liverpool forward is said to have flown out to Los Angeles to complete the transfer and link up with Chelsea's pre-season tour.

Sterling won four Premier League titles, the FA Cup and four EFL Cups during his time at the club.

He also developed into one of the most dynamic attacking threats in European football under Pep Guardiola, scoring 85 Premier League goals since the former Barcelona boss took over as manager in 2016.

The England international will look to have a similar impact for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but made clear his affection for City in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.

He wrote: "To the coaching staff who have played a massive role in my development over the years, to my team-mates who have become more than just those I share a pitch with, to the backroom staff, to the office staff, to the fans who have tirelessly supported the team, and to everyone involved with Manchester City my respect for you couldn't be greater. What a ride it's been.

"I am thankful for the ups and the downs. as it's the downs that have, at times, tested my strength and resolve and enabled me to stand here in front of you as the best possible version of myself.

"I arrived in Manchester a 20-year-old, today I leave as a man. Thank you for your endless support. It's been an honour to wear the shirt of Manchester City."

Chelsea have reportedly turned their attention to Bayern Munich winger and Germany international Serge Gnabry.

The decision was made to pivot away from Leeds United winger Raphinha after Barcelona seemingly moved into pole position for the Brazil international, with Chelsea then deciding to test the waters for former Arsenal forward Gnabry.

He is coming off his highest-scoring Bundesliga season, having netted 14 goals and contributed six assists in 34 league fixtures, scoring another three goals in the Champions League.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GEAR UP FOR GNABRY BID

Despite it being widely reported that Chelsea have secured Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for fee of around £45million, the Blues are clearly not satisfied with their winger stocks. 

This was further fuelled by reports the club tried to include Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech along with cash in a deal for Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, with Ziyech now appearing likely to land a move to Milan.

The Daily Mail claims Chelsea have enquired about Gnabry, 26, who debuted with Arsenal as a 17-year-old in 2012, but his time at the Gunners fizzled out with injuries before a loan move to West Brom, resulting in Werder Bremen scooping him up in a bargain £5m move.

He scored 11 goals in his first season in the Bundesliga to earn a move to Bayern, where he has tallied 171 games and 63 goals across four Bundesliga campaigns, winning four consecutive league titles.

ROUND-UP

– The Mirror is reporting that Barcelona's top priority is to sell Frenkie de Jong to fund their move for Leeds' Raphinha, while the Manchester Evening News claims top Manchester United officials are in Spain ironing out the details for the Dutch international's switch to Old Trafford.

– TalkSPORT claims that if United's chase of De Jong falls through, they are prepared to target Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves or Leicester City's Youri Tielemans.

Wolves have rejected an offer worth over £20m from Everton for 22-year-old midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White, according to The Telegraph.

– According to the Irish Independent, 21-year-old Nathan Collins will become the most expensive Irish player ever when he completes his £20.3m move from Burnley to Wolves this week.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Ousmane Dembele has decided to stay on at Barcelona, shunning interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich as a consequence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine plunged Chelsea into uncertainty earlier this year, but an ownership change has seen a degree of stability return.

Despite the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen this off-season, Todd Boehly's consortium has allowed Chelsea to resume with their preparations for the new season.

And it appears they are close to clinching their first signing of the new era, with a transfer for one of the Premier League's best attackers seemingly imminent.

 

TOP STORY – RAHEEM STERLING SET FOR CHELSEA

Chelsea have reached a deal with Manchester City to sign Raheem Sterling, according to David Ornstein of the Athletic.

The 27-year-old is set to sign a contract until 2027 with the option of an extra season, signalling the first major signing under new ownership.

Starting his senior career with Liverpool, Sterling moved to City in 2015, scoring 131 times in 339 appearances for them in all competitions.

The England international's status under Pep Guardiola became less secure in the past season however, with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish seeing increased time on the left wing.
 

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, Barcelona have matched Chelsea's offer of €70.1million (£60m) plus add-ons for Leeds United's Raphinha, Goal is reporting.

– Frenkie de Jong is hoping to remain at Barcelona and will reject an approach from Manchester United, per Sport.

– Bayern Munich have met with the representatives of Matthijs de Ligt, but Juventus are yet to receive an opening bid, according to Fabrizio Romano.

– Brighton and Hove Albion are in talks with Marc Cucurella over an improved deal amid interest from Manchester City, the Athletic reports.

Perhaps taking a page out of legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson's playbook, it is out with the old at Manchester City and in with the new in what has been a busy transfer window to date.

On the back of winning a fourth Premier League title in five seasons, City have waved goodbye to long-serving and reliable midfielder Fernandinho, while sanctioning the exits of forwards Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling – the latter's move to Chelsea expected to go through in the coming days.

It is undoubtedly a risk from City's perspective, not least with Jesus and Sterling joining fellow big-six clubs Arsenal and Chelsea respectively, but one the reigning English champions feel is worth taking as they freshen up their side.

Plenty of focus will undoubtedly be on new arrivals Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez and Kalvin Phillips (sorry, Stefan Ortega), but Pep Guardiola will also need other squad members to step up in City's quest for more major honours.

That is a category Jack Grealish, now into his second season at the Etihad Stadium following last year's British record £100million transfer, fits into on the back of a rather mixed first 12 months or so in Manchester.

Unusually for such a big-money transfer, and for a player moving between clubs in the same league, Grealish was afforded a settling in period at City and occasionally went under the radar – right up until May's title celebrations, that is!

But with Sterling no longer around, the former Aston Villa star must now deliver if Guardiola's gamble is to pay off. Here, Stats Perform looks at exactly what Grealish offers to City, and the areas he can perhaps still improve.


GREALISH OVERLOOKED

Allowing Sterling to leave would not have been an easy decision for City, even if he did become more of a peripheral figure in his final 18 months or so at the club – coinciding with a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United in March 2021.

The versatile forward had started 70 per cent of City's games in all competitions between his debut and that loss to United, compared to 53 per cent of the Citizens' subsequent 77 matches.

He was named among the substitutes in both legs of the thrilling Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, as well as the final-day showdown with Villa in the Premier League.

But rather tellingly, it was Sterling who Guardiola turned to from the bench in the first leg against Madrid, with Grealish playing a watching brief throughout, as was the case in that game against Villa when City were chasing three goals.

Put simply, Guardiola felt he had options better than Grealish when in need of goals. But with wide forwards Sterling and Jesus gone, that surely cannot be the case this season – unless, of course, the plan is to rely on Haaland up top.

 

THE STATS DON'T LIE

Grealish played 39 times for City in all competitions in his first season at the Etihad, 31 of those being starts, ranking him level with Riyad Mahrez (31 starts) and behind Sterling (32) and Phil Foden (36) in a similar area of the pitch. Jesus, incidentally, started just 28 games for City in 2021-22.

While that is a pretty telling statistic in its own right, Grealish's – let's face it – hugely underwhelming direct-goals involvement of just 10 in a high-scoring City side is what garnered the most attention when picking apart his first year under Guardiola.

Eight other City players directly contributed to more goals in all competitions last season, with Sterling registering 15 more combined goals and assists than Grealish. Mahrez, now well suited to playing in Guardiola's complex system, led the way with 33.

Grealish himself admitted midway through last season that he needed to play a bigger part in front of goal, but felt the statistics were not truly reflecting his performances in the final third.

"I think [stats] are important because at the end of the day that is what people look at such as how many goal involvements us attackers have. Especially when you come to a club with the price tag that I did," he said.

"If you don't get some [goals and assists] for a few games, everyone starts to talk. I think they are important but there will be times where you're playing well and the goals and assists just aren't coming. That's what I have felt recently. 

"In the Watford game the other day I could have scored about four or five and I came off the pitch with nothing. Even the Leeds game, we scored seven goals as well and I only got one."

In that Watford game mentioned by Grealish, the England international finished with an expected goals (xG) value of 0.83 in his 68 minutes on the pitch but could not find the net from any of his five efforts, three of which were on target. 

That compares to two goals from three shots for midfield team-mate Bernardo Silva from an xG of 0.28, with Sterling scoring City's other goal in that 3-1 Premier League win at Vicarage Road.


... OR DO THEY

That Watford game was very much a microcosm of Grealish's time at City to date, with the underlying figures backing up his previous point about his efforts perhaps not paying off. 

His four assists in 2021-22, for example, came from an expected assists (xA) return of 7.08 – that differential of 3.08 being the highest of any City player. Effectively, had his team-mates put away certain chances, Grealish's season would have had a slightly more positive spin.

Indeed, the 78 chances created by the 26-year-old last season was bettered only by Kevin De Bruyne (129) among City players in all competitions, though just 10 of those were defined as 'big chances' by Opta, which is the same number as central defender Aymeric Laporte.

This is by no means to say Grealish's shortcomings last season were down to those around him. If he is to truly thrive under Guardiola, though, the shackles will surely have to be released if the Grealish that lit up the Premier League with Villa is to be seen again.

The Grealish that plays with freedom and flair – the reason Guardiola pushed hard for the club to pay a nine-figure sum for the transfer, after all – was there to see for England in their recent Nations League games.

He made a huge impact down the left-hand side from the bench with England trailing against Germany, managing six touches in the opposition box despite playing just 18 minutes, which was double that of any England player other than Harry Kane (seven).

Grealish then played a part in the incident that led to England being awarded a penalty in which Kane converted to snatch a 1-1 draw. That is very much the difference-making cameo Guardiola did not see enough of last time out.

The good news for Grealish is that he may be afforded more opportunities to get at opponents now that City have a target man in Haaland to aim for. The slick passing moves will not be done away with, as such, but Haaland is completely different in stature to any player City had up top last season.

And after a whole year of working under Guardiola, including a first pre-season, Grealish will now be far more accustomed to the demands expected of him if he is to become a regular in the starting line-up.

"I am just trying to keep improving all of the time and I know for a fact that the longer I am here the more I will improve," he added in that interview seven months ago.

With the old guard gone, the time has now arrived for Grealish to prove he has what it takes to thrive under Guardiola.

Chelsea are looking to swoop in and scoop up Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who has been Manchester United's primary midfield target since the appointment of new boss Erik ten Hag.

De Jong, 25, has 44 international caps for the Netherlands, and has spent the past three seasons with the Spanish giants.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been adamant the club does not want to part ways with the star they paid €75million for back in 2019, but the club's financial position may force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LOOK TO STEAL UNITED TARGET WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ALLURE

De Jong is reportedly been hesitant about a move to United due to the fact that they could not offer Champions League football, and that is where Chelsea will have their advantage in negotiations.

The Metro is reporting the Stamford Bridge club are preparing an offer that will include both players and cash, with €60million as well as Spanish duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso said to be on the table.

The elephant in the room regarding a De Jong move is that Barcelona reportedly owe the Dutchman £17m in deferred wages, and the Daily Mail claims he wants the balance fully paid before he signs off on any transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

United have been told they will need to pay £106m in order to secure the signings of Ajax duo Lisandro Martinez and Antony, according to the Daily Record.

– According to i Sport, Chelsea are working on a new contract extension for Reece James, despite three years still remaining on his current deal, in an effort to fend off interest from Manchester City and Real Madrid.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Wolves will send 19-year-old Fabio Silva on a season-long loan to Anderlecht after purchasing him for £35m two years ago.

– The Mirror claims Leeds United are preparing a club-record offer of £32m for 21-year-old Club Brugge midfielder Charles De Ketelaere, who already has eight senior international caps for Belgium.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, the likely departure of Raheem Sterling has put City in a position to offer Riyad Mahrez a contract extension.

Robert Lewandowski's status and Sadio Mane's transfer have taken up the majority of attention at Bayern Munich this close season.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry's uncertain future has lurked in the background, despite his importance to the team in recent seasons.

Reports suggest he is set to leave for the Premier League sooner rather than later, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS QUEUE FOR GNABRY

Arsenal and Manchester United are both preparing to sign Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry, according to the Daily Star.

According to reports, Gnabry is set to run down his contract after rejecting terms for a renewal, with one year left on his deal.

This leaves Bayern with compromised leverage as time becomes a luxury, despite their desire to cash in this window, instead of letting him go for free at the end of next season

While Arsenal and United are preparing a £40million (€46.4m) bid, The Sun is also reporting Gnabry would become a priority for Manchester City if Raheem Sterling leaves.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, the Gunners and United are engaging in a bidding war for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez, according to the Daily Mail.

- Martinez's team-mate and compatriot Nicolas Tagliafico is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion and Lyon, per Fabrizio Romano.

Barcelona have no intention to sell Frenkie de Jong to United but are looking for the midfielder to take a pay cut, Diario AS reports.

Mohamed Salah was prepared to join Chelsea before Liverpool made him the highest-paid player in their history, The Sun is reporting.

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