Raheem Sterling can help Chelsea reduce the gap between Chelsea and Manchester City and Liverpool, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel.
The 27-year-old English forward, who cost Chelsea £50 million and signed a five-year contract with the West London club, is Chelsea’s first signing under the club’s new American owners, and manager Thomas Tuchel is hopeful that more will follow.
“Hopefully he shapes our team by just being who he is,” Tuchel told BBC Sport.
“He will be a huge asset for us.”
Chelsea manager added: “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.
“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.”
The addition of Raheem Sterling, according to Tuchel, “is not the end,” as Manchester City center-back Nathan Ake and defender Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli are both close to signing four-year contracts.
After losing Andreas Christensen to Barcelona and Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid, the manager is eager to bolster the defense.
However, he noted that the club had to “work smart and fast” to keep up with its Premier League opponents since ownership concerns prevented them from making transfer plans after Roman Abramovich was censured in March.
In May, Todd Boehly, a businessman from the United States, took over as the club’s new co-owner, ending Abramovich’s reign.
Following the departures of hiring and transfer experts Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia last month, Boehly has also assumed the position of a temporary sporting director. According to Tuchel, he and Boehly have a “very intensive, very close” relationship.
“The relationship [with the owners] is very intense, very close, which it has to be – because without Petr and without Marina, it’s a big change in the daily structure and communication,” Tuchel said from Los Angeles as the team prepared for their pre-season tour of the US.
“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 completed last season with a score of 19 points less than champions City, while second-place Liverpool had a score of 18 points more. When asked how long it will take to close the gap, Tuchel said: “I’m a very impatient person. I don’t want to talk about the long term. This is not me.”
“We will try to close the gap in the first game but the first game is Everton and we need to be ready. For that, we have some homework to do because we need a strong squad otherwise we cannot compete for what we are used to competing in as Chelsea. I don’t want to give in and I don’t want to lose this kind of spirit and attitude. We need to do our homework and build a strong team.”
A year after paying Inter Milan £98 million for Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s first move under the new ownership was to loan Lukaku back to the Italian club.
Tuchel, however, claimed that Chelsea made that choice following discussions with the Belgian striker and his agency, who were eager for the player to return to Italy.
Along with admitting that the loaning of the forward, along with the exit of Cech and Granovskaia, was his responsibility, he added that it demonstrated that the new ownership “was not bashful in making judgments.”
“When we had the agent and Romelu’s point of view, we thought it was best to make the decision that we took and Todd had my full support,” added Tuchel, as he avoided talking on links with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Regarding his future, Tuchel stated that he hoped to leave a lasting impression at Chelsea in the same way as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola did.
Abramovich recruited 10 permanent managers in his 19 years as owner, so it’s clear that the current ownership wants management continuity.
When asked if he wanted to manage a legacy, Tuchel responded: “Yes, I would like to, but I need to prove myself first”
“Pep and Jurgen, they didn’t get it offered to them, just like this. You have to earn it and I have to earn my years here at Chelsea so I’m doing the best I can to be the best version of myself that I can be.
“I think [the owners] feel it and from here we go. We had some talks about my future in the club, but it’s not the priority at the moment. The priority is the team and to have the most competitive team. No coach in the world can win without the team.
“You have to deliver and then you can create the legacy. But I don’t expect it to be handed to me for nothing.”
What is Raheem Sterling bringing to Chelsea?
Raheem Sterling can play as a striker, attacking midfielder, or winger, although his position of preference is as a winger. Sterling has won praise for his adaptability and capacity to play outside, at the tip of a midfield diamond, and centrally.
Because of his pace, low center of gravity, and dribbling skills, Sterling’s previous manager, Brendan Rodgers, has compared him to Alexis Sánchez.
In addition, Rodgers has praised him for being mature, posing a “real threat,” and controlling his speed.
He may be small, but his powerful upper body strength enables him to overcome challenges and cling onto stuff.