Raheem Sterling finally sealed his protracted Liverpool exit as Manchester City confirmed the signing of the 20-year-old England international for a club record £49 million on a five-year deal yesterday afternoon.
“I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait,” Sterling said after completing the move. “The more quality players around you, the more quality it brings out in you.”
The £49 million paid for his services makes Sterling the most expensive English footballer in history as well as the most expensive under-21 player in world football so there’s clearly a lot of pressure riding on his young shoulders.
Sterling will wear the No.7 shirt for City next season – a squad number usually given to those expected to create plenty of chances – and that’s exactly what the pacey winger will expect to do.
He enjoyed his best season in terms of chance creation last time out as he made a total of 68 key passes (via Squawka) for Liverpool – 22 more than in the previous campaign.
Though he did fail to find the net as frequently as the 2013/14 season as he ended last term with seven goals, two less than he bagged a year earlier.
The graph above shows that Sterling’s performances have generally improved in the Premier League over each of the last three seasons, with those two goals dropping from 2014 to 2015 the only blip.
However, his playing time has changed significantly over the past three years and so a better way to look at his improvement would be to assess his data per 90 minutes.
It’s clear that Sterling has improved as a playmaker with each season. He was creating an average of 2.2 chances per 90 minutes last term – more than any other Reds player – and will expect to go better again in a City shirt this year.
Referring back to Chart 1 shows us Sterling made 11 more key passes between the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, before making 22 more key passes between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.
That would suggest he is on track to make 33 more in the upcoming season, so long as his playing time doesn’t drop too significantly under Manuel Pellegrini, which would see him make around 101 key passes with about ten assists.
No City player made more than eight assists last season (Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero were tied on that number), while David Silva led the key pass total with 86.
If Sterling sees regular playing time, it looks likely he will reward the trust City have placed in him by creating more chances than any of his teammates.
The fact that he is playing with a world-class striker in Aguero every week will only help his cause and it will be fascinating to see how the young England star adapts in his first season at the Etihad.
Will Raheem Sterling be Manchester City’s best playmaker next season?