Helsea striker Raheem Sterling says a lack of playing time under Pep Guardiola has led him to seek a new challenge where he can become a “more vocal leader” like former mentor Steven Gerrard.
The 27-year-old made the £47.5million move to Stamford Bridge in the summer and, in his first comments to the media since the switch, explained how Chelsea made him feel wanted after being over further pushed into a role he “just wouldn’t do”. not accept” at Manchester City.
The emergence of Phil Foden, alongside big-money arrivals Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and, last summer, Jack Grealish for £100million, meant Sterling’s minutes were slashed. The arrival of Erling Haaland only made the situation worse.
“I felt my playing time at City was getting limited for different reasons and I couldn’t afford to waste any more time,” Sterling said at Cobham Training Center on Thursday. “When I look back into the future, I never wanted to look back and see a rise and then a fall.
“So my feeling was that I had to stay at the same level and that a new challenge was needed. Since I was 17 I have been a regular starter and to reach the peak of my career not playing regularly was something. thing I would not accept.
“My personality is to try and fight and change the script but it just didn’t come and that’s it. With the few other options I had, this one was more suited to my personal goals.
“For my family it makes a lot of sense and with the direction the club is going. If you look at Chelsea over the last two years I think it’s four of the five finals they’ve been in, it’s a team who is competing and who will only get better.
“Of course with my time at City there have been a lot of memories and great moments. But the year and a bit that I’ve been out of the team have taught me a lot about myself and made me appreciate a lot of things and try to put them in order.
“A lot of things happen for a reason and I kept that mentality. It was tough, my kids went to school there and my son misses my friends. But in life you have to take the best decisions for you and your family.
“So for me, with the new ownership and the takeover, it made a lot of sense. I feel like that’s been my whole journey. Going up to Liverpool and manifesting what I wanted, going to City and living the dream, and now to come back to London as a grown adult, to be in the football game and I feel like I have my head on my shoulders.
“I know exactly what I want from my life and from football, so now is the perfect time to take on a new challenge.”
Sterling is part of a group of captains for England, following first-choice Harry Kane, and wants to continue to help young players improve, just as Gerrard did for him at Liverpool and internationally.
Thomas Tuchel has named Sterling as his number one attacking target over the summer and Sterling wants to take on that responsibility and become a leader for his new club.
“I’ve been given this chance to come and showcase my talents and it’s one, having grown up a bit off the pitch and inside the locker room and around the club, it’s a developing side of me that I want to see more,” he added.
“I want to be more involved in dressing room decisions, be more vocal and try to drive the team forward.
Adding: “It’s good to try to educate young people, whatever their profession. You don’t want them to end up in a hostile environment, you want it to be an environment in which they can thrive.
“When I was young I had someone like Steven Gerrard around me. When I got into the national team he had his arm around me and that makes you much more relaxed around camp so you can do your best. That’s all I Joke and laugh, but at the same time get the job done and feel comfortable.