Raheem Sterling's bright start at Manchester City suggests fee could be justified

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This summer marked a much-needed exodus for Manchester City, with many players leaving the club.

The Citizens saw a wholesale number of English and home-grown players exit the club for newer pastures, with James Milner, Frank Lampard, Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards amongst such Englishman to call time on their City careers.

Academy graduates Karim Rekik, Dedryck Boyata and Marcos Lopes followed the same path, seeking more game time.


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Manuel Pellegrini and his team responded to this by spending more than a £150 million in the summer on new additions, with almost one-third of it spent on English blood in Raheem Sterling.

The winger has enjoyed a somewhat successful start to his career in Manchester, but the question still remains - was it money well spent? 

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For City, acquiring the services of such a young player of Sterling's calibre is a coup, irrespective of the transfer fee in question. The 20-year-old is renowned for his no-fear, direct running style at defenders, with his quick feet and excellent dribbling proving a real test for those who have come up against him this season.

In the 2014/15 campaign, City often lacked urgency in their game - something that Sterling can provide, offering pace, trickery and guile.

It wasn't so much that City lacked players with pace last season - Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas are amongst the quickest in the Premier League - but more that such pace wasn't put to good use given the former's consistent injury woes and Navas' flaw of being too one dimensional.

However, with Sterling they now have a player who ticks most boxes for City when going forward, turning defence into attack in a split second and offering the extra dimension that they so desperately needed, not to mention a youthful injection.

Sterling’s versatility makes him a valuable asset to the City side. His ability to play in multiple positions is in stark contrast to Navas, who almost always sticks to the right-side touchline during games, driving down the flank rather than cutting inside.

The England international has played in every position across the attacking line, with the central attacking role arguably his strongest position given the influence he had in behind the dynamic duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge two seasons ago.

This role allowed the youngster freedom and was largely beneficial to Brendan Rogders’ side, who were able to play around him and utilise his pace and composure on the ball.

He registered a career-best of nine goals and seven assists that season, which is made even more remarkable considering that was his first season as a regular starter.

Last season saw Sterling in a more advanced position for Liverpool as a lone striker, given Sturridge's injuries and Mario Balotelli's poor form, where he scored seven goals and provided eight assists despite having to bear most of the attacking load.

The Englishman also performed admirably on the international stage, as Roy Hodgson had no hesitation to deploy him on the right wing to complement Wayne Rooney.

And while England had a dismal World cup, exiting in the group stages, Sterling stepped up and was one of the lone bright sparks in the campaign. Indeed, Sterling’s performances received so much acclaim that he was rated as the most valuable youngster across Europe.

The next aspect that should be considered is Sterling’s impact on his new City teammates. On the creativity line, the essential cogs of the team are most notably Yaya Toure and David Silva, who thrive upon those around them making runs.

With Sterling, therefore, City have yet another target to latch on to the playmakers' through balls to stretch defences. Sterling’s quick and explosive style will complement Aguero's reading of the game and ability to make runs.

Sterling arrived at City with the hefty price tag of £49 million to justify, but from what we have seen up until now, Sterling has the potential to go above and beyond his fee, with the Englishman already showing improvements since his days at Liverpool.

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