Raheem Sterling arrived at Manchester City in the summer with much fanfare after becoming the second most expensive British player in history. In Liverpool, however, there was fury with his acrimonious departure. This had much to do with the fact that he had turned down a £100,000-a-week offer from the club and his less than satisfactory efforts at the end of last season.
As we close in on the end of his first season at the Etihad Stadium, it is relevant to pose the question - has the £49 million man lived up to expectations?
When you look at the bare facts, the answer is no. In all competitions, including playing for the national team, Sterling has scored 12 goals in 48 appearances along with nine assists. When you narrow it down to the Premier League, he has scored six goals and contributed two assists in 29 appearances (22 as a starter). His goal tally in the league this season is less than his last two seasons with the Reds.
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In terms of his natural attributes, speed is his biggest asset. He is by no means a natural finisher, normally needing three or four chances to score a goal. Maybe it is that reason that in recent weeks he has been nothing more than a cameo player. Against Real Madrid, he only played the last 13 minutes of the match,and players such as Jesus Navas and recently Kelechi Iheanacho have been preferred - hardly a vote of confidence.
His selection for Euro 2016 has also come into question in some quarters. However, if Danny Welbeck is deemed a certainty for the squad despite missing 12 months through injury, then Sterling's spot should not be in question.
Liverpool spent part of their fee for Sterling on Brazilian Roberto Firmino. At the time of the purchase, then manager Brendan Rodgers, was at pains to say he was not a direct replacement for the England international. However, it is relevant to compare the two with Firmino scoring more goals (nine) and assists (seven) in the Premier League. Over time, it will be a nice little subplot to see the impact both have on their respective teams.
A possible reason behind Sterling's average season may have to do with the competition he has faced for his desired central playmaking role.
At City, Sterling has to compete with the quality players such as Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, which means he has been shunted out to the flanks. While at Liverpool he only had to vie with Philippe Coutinho and occasionally Adam Lallana (when fit). In some ways It would have been fascinating if he decided to stay at Anfield, the sort of impact Jurgen Klopp could have made on him.
It will be Pep Guardiola's job to light a competitive fire under the highly talented player. The Spaniard brings a pedigree second to none in the current managerial scene, and with the talent he has worked with over his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he will look to impart that on Sterling, who it should be remembered, is still only 21 years of age.
Sterling's first season hasn't gone to completely to plan, there is little question about that. If you were grading his season you say it was nothing more than a C level, not a disaster but by no means a blazing success. In truth, next season will be able to give us a better insight about the success of his move. He won't be the 'new boy' any longer, and he needs to hit the ground running -there is a lot of expectation on those young shoulders.
Has Raheem Sterling lived up to his £50m price-tag? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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