As a Manchester City icon, Raheem Sterling departs the team.

Four Premier League championships, five League Cups, one FA Cup, and a Champions League runners-up medal speak for themselves.

Only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals and only Kevin de Bruyne has accumulated more assists during Pep Guardiola’s era of exceptional success for the team. No one played more minutes.

And at the age of 27, a player with a player’s level of football intellect and maturity ought to be at the height of his abilities.

So why did City consent to transfer him to Chelsea, one of their biggest competitors?

Of course, timing is everything, and as the England international still had one year left on his contract, this was the last summer City could have made money off of him.

There was no indication that Europe’s top clubs could match the offer from new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, who was anxious to make a statement signing to usher in a new era at Stamford Bridge, despite the player’s claim that he might desire to play elsewhere in the future.

The player could have departed for free the following summer, thus the £47.5 million ($57 million) transfer fee offers good value for them and virtually fully recovers their initial investment in Sterling, who joined from Liverpool in 2015.

It’s important to keep in mind that many analysts thought City had overpaid for him and worried that he wouldn’t be worth the trouble or the money.

After all, Sterling’s departure from Liverpool had been anything but amicable, and both he and his agent faced criticism for how they handled the situation.

Even while there were indications in previous months that the attacker was dissatisfied with his situation at the Etihad, this most recent exit has gone much more easily.

In October 2021, Sterling remarked, “If there was a possibility to go somewhere else for more game time, I would be open to it.

Sterling or any other player, for that matter, was never going to receive guarantees regarding game time from Guardiola.

Sterling never had a chance to give up, though, as he continued to have an impact on the field as City successfully defended their title once more with his assistance.

Although the team would have been glad for him to sign a new deal, it was made plain that any playing time would need to be earned because the competition for spots will only get more intense next season.

In fact, Sterling would have had much less opportunities to play through the middle in 2022–23 if Erling Haaland had not been signed so late and had not been joined by prospective star Julian Alvarez.

 

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