LONDON – Chelsea’s new signing Raheem Sterling can help shape the London club as they attempt to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, head coach Thomas Tuchel said.
Sterling joined Chelsea on a five-year contract from Premier League champions Manchester City in a deal reported to be worth up to £50 million.
The 27-year-old is Chelsea’s first signing under the new ownership led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, who took over from Russian Roman Abramovich at the end of May.
“He will be a huge asset for us,” Tuchel told the BBC according to Reuters. “Hopefully he shapes our team by just being who he is.
“For me, he is a huge player, with a huge influence in the last years in English football and he’s in a perfect age to now take responsibility around young players that we have and be an example.”
After starting his senior career at Liverpool, Sterling moved to City in 2015 and went on to score more than 100 times for the Etihad club. He also helped City win both the league title and League Cup four times as well as one FA Cup.
“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,” Tuchel added.
“It is the benchmark in the Premier League and is exactly what we need.”
Chelsea, who finished third last season, begins the new season with a trip to Everton on August 6.
The 27-year-old posted a goodbye message on social media ahead of an expected £50 million ($59 million) move.
Sterling announced his exit from the Etihad with a social media post thanking those he worked with at the club over the past seven years.
“Seven seasons, eleven major trophies, a lifetime of memories,” he posted on Twitter according to AFP. “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 as a 20-year-old. Today, I leave a man. Thank you for your endless support. It’s been an honour to wear the shirt of Manchester City.”
Sterling is set to become Chelsea’s first signing since Todd Boehly’s consortium bought the club.
The England international won four Premier League titles among nine major trophies since joining City from Liverpool in 2015.
A key player in the early years of Pep Guardiola’s reign at City, Sterling scored 131 goals in 337 appearances for the English champions.
However, his regular place in the starting line-up at City came increasingly under threat from the signing of Jack Grealish for a Premier League record £100 million last year, plus the emergence of Phil Foden from the club’s academy.