Liverpool news Raheem Sterling could find himself back in controversial Liverpool position PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Chelsea could be about to play Raheem Sterling as a striker with the England international first being utilised in such a role at Liverpool
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! It’s set to be a busy final month of the transfer window for Chelsea as new owner Todd Boehly continues to fund a spending spree at Stamford Bridge, in an effort to close the gap on Liverpool and Man City at the top of the table. Carney Chukwuemeka has become Thomas Tuchel's fourth signing of the summer after a £20m deal was agreed with Aston Villa, following on from the £47.5m arrival of Raheem Sterling, the £33m addition of Kalidou Koulibaly and the £12m acquisition of Gabriel Slonina. Yet the Londoners won’t be done there, with them reportedly also working on deals for Marc Cucurella, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong. Yet there is no sign of Chelsea adding a new striker to their ranks. Perhaps for the best given their record with natural frontmen in recent years, but with Romelu Lukaku having returned to Inter Milan on loan, Timo Werner in talks to return to RB Leipzig and Michy Batshuayi and Armando Broja both available for transfer, Tuchel’s side could find themselves rather light in attack. READ MORE: Barcelona 'want' Trent Alexander-Arnold and 'will make £67m offer' to Liverpool READ MORE: 'Hand on heart' - Gary Neville makes blunt claim over Liverpool squad strength Of course, the German could again turn to compatriot Kai Havertz to lead the line, with the midfielder playing upfront 26 times for Chelsea last season, and has shared such responsibilities for the majority of pre-season with Batshuayi and Werner. Meanwhile, the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and even Callum Hudson-Odoi have all filled in as emergency strikers in the past. Yet in Chelsea’s last pre-season friendly against Udinese, it was Sterling who led the line with the England international even opening his unofficial account for the club in a 3-1 win. Although predominantly a winger, the 27-year-old has plenty of experience upfront for both club and country. During his time at Man City, Transfermarkt credits him having made at least 39 appearances upfront, scoring a respectable 17 goals from such outings. Yet they are broken up and spread across seven seasons, with his nine outings in attack last year the most he ever managed during a single campaign at the Etihad. As a result, his most prolonged stint upfront actually came during his last season at Liverpool. And having sold Luis Suarez that summer before struggling to sign a replacement, seen Daniel Sturridge’s campaign decimated by injury and Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini register just four Premier League goals between them, such a decision was one made out of desperation and necessity by then-manager Brendan Rodgers. Having narrowly missed out on the title the season before, the Reds were in miserable form in 2014/15 as FSG began to run out of patience with the Northern Irishman. Ninth in the table having won just four times in the league since August and having been knocked out in the Champions League group-stages by Basel in their previous outing, Rodgers stepped away from his preferred 4-3-3 formation as he unveiled an unfamiliar 3-4-2-1 system for his side’s trip to Manchester United on December 14. With Sterling leading the line, Liverpool were ultimately unable to find a way past David De Gea at Old Trafford as they fell to a 3-0 defeat. But their performance was a lot more encouraging than the scoreline suggested. Read More Related Articles Leroy Sane makes major Liverpool Champions League admission Read More Related Articles Liverpool could sign former Manchester United star for free to solve injury issue Such a system had been the brainchild of Rodgers, almost by accident, at the start of October after seeing the Reds lose 1-0 away in Basel in the first meeting between the two sides. An injury to Behrang Safari after only four minutes led them to bring on attacking midfielder Derlis Gonzalez and switch to a back three, with the Swiss outfit’s new shape causing Liverpool, themselves operating a 4-2-3-1, major problems. After seeing his side lose 3-1 away to Crystal Palace the following month, Rodgers was under pressure to field the club’s new signings, and with Balotelli unwilling or unable to lead their traditional press and Lambert not mobile enough to do so, FSG’s Mike Gordon was urging him to move away from his favoured 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 formations in a bid to find form. Later in the season he would tell journalists, off the record, about his long, sleepless nights in the days after that loss at Selhurst Park as he locked himself away in his office, occasionally calling his staff in to discuss what he was thinking but essentially trying to find a solution on his own. One night he was up at 3am, sustained only by tea and toast, as he arrived at a ‘eureka’ moment before scribbling down his thoughts and subsequently changing his principles to get the best out of his squad. Thus, having kept thinking back to his side’s loss to Basel, an adapted 3-4-2-1 formation with Sterling leading the line, providing the pace and with it the ability to press, was born. First utilised against United, Sterling would score a brace in Liverpool’s next outing as they won 3-1 away at AFC Bournemouth in the League Cup quarter-finals, before scoring the winner in their next victory against Burnley on Boxing Day. Embarking on an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions, an Europa League exit at the hands of Besiktas would be their only loss in 23 matches. Also putting together a 13-game unbeaten run in the Premier League as they closed in on the Champions League places, reached both domestic cup semi-finals and threatened to rescue their season, Sterling would score seven goals from 14 appearances upfront during this run. But despite a respectable goalscoring return, only three of those strikes came in the Premier League and Rodgers was repeatedly forced to defend the forward’s finishing ability and his use of him ‘out of position’. "He can play across the front line. I played him as a striker, but you get different types of striker,” Rodgers said after Sterling’s brace against Bournemouth. "He's more of an Alexis Sanchez when he plays as a striker - he's not going to pin the defender. He plays in the spaces and he's got the speed to get in behind. A couple of great finishes and I'm very pleased for him. "I think his best position is on the side from the left, coming inside and making runs in behind, but I played him in the position because I think he can play it. As a young player and in the youth team at Liverpool he's played as a striker and he's got the qualities to do it… "He hasn't scored the goals that maybe people expect of him but it's not what I expect of him. I expect him to create and score goals over the course of the season. He was just playing freely - we gave him that striker's role but he's not someone who backs into defenders. Read More Related Articles Jamie Carragher drops Liverpool transfer hint Read More Related Articles Liverpool pull £3.
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." “He is in a position now, he will receive a lot of opportunities in that kind of situation because of his pace,” Rodgers would say after Sterling’s winner against Burnley. “His pace will take him away from anyone and since that game he has gone away with the coaches and worked on that type of finish, both left side and right side. “He showed great composure and a great ability to learn, to beat the keeper and finished it really well. His development and ability to want to be better has got us the three points.” He added: "I think there are players that are natural-born goalscorers and they live to score goals, they want to score a goal. Some are not so worried about what they do in the build-up, not concerned about how hard they work, but they want to score a goal. They have that ability to get a goal. "Then you get other players, the top-class players who work very hard, who have that ability to score a lot of goals and create goals and that's something that develops with confidence over your career. I think we see him like that and I think his numbers over his career will keep improving and improving. "For me I'm very happy with his performance. He's gone into that role, he's offered us a real threat, his pace in every game is phenomenal but he's got that bit of composure at the end. He's going to miss some chances of course but you've seen at Burnley the one opportunity he had he took it.” Following Sturridge’s return from injury, Sterling would revert to his traditional role out wide, though occasionally as a wing-back, or as one of the two attacking midfielders behind the striker. Yet Liverpool’s impressive run of form would come to an end at the hands of Louis van Gaal as the Reds’ suffered a convincing 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United. Ultimately, while Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana prospered in those inside-forward roles, with Sterling dropping back and exploiting any space they created by dragging holding midfielders out of position and running in behind, Liverpool never quite got the defensive side of the formation right. As a result, although Sturridge would be struck down by injury again soon afterwards, Rodgers would predominantly return to his favoured formations at the expense of the 3-4-2-1 system as the Reds’ season floundered. And even when he did desperately restore it sporadically, such as for the FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa, by then Liverpool’s morale had been destroyed and Sterling was embroiled in an ugly contract saga with the club. Losing both domestic cup semi-finals, the Reds would finish the season in sixth and win just two of their last nine Premier League matches. Their campaign would end with a heavy 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Anfield before the embarrassing 6-1 loss away at Stoke City - a game Sterling would be left an unused substitute for amid speculation about his future. Rodgers would hang onto his job until October 2015, where he was replaced by Jurgen Klopp, but Sterling would get his move to Man City that summer, with his controversial agent, Aidy Ward, pointing to a breakdown in relations with his manager as one reason behind his desire to move on in a £49m switch. He'd also hit out at the decision to play him out of position. “Last season I thought subliminal messages were being sent to Raheem. Why would Liverpool play him at left wing back? Would you play Simon Mignolet up front?," he told the Daily Mail in October 2015. “I think it was the game against Manchester United, he was played as an attacking midfielder, moved to right back, then up front, then left back, and eventually back to attacking midfielder. I was watching thinking: ‘Well this is interesting’."
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He'd later bemoan: “At Liverpool, Raheem was asked to play as a full-back, just like Emre Can was asked to play as a central defender when he is a midfielder. That wasn’t going to help him develop as a player." Despite such criticism, Rodgers knew Sterling's best position was in attack and, having seen him return seven goals and four assists from 21 games upfront during the 2014/15 season, was convinced more was to come from the England international. “You’ve other players who are out-and-out number nines but as [Sterling’s] career matures I think he will show he’s got that ability,” he insisted. “I think you’ll see Raheem’s numbers improve and improve as his career goes on. “His outcome last year in terms of goals and assists is probably where it’s at – up and around between 10 and 15 is a very good return for him. He knows his job is to create goals and score goals and he’s doing very well at the moment.” Ultimately Rodgers has been proven right in the years that have followed with Sterling also returning double-figures and even registering 23, 25 and 31 goals in successive seasons for Man City before starting opportunities under Guardiola began to dry up. Now embarking on his first season at Chelsea, he could find himself playing upfront again with Tuchel preferring a 3-4-2-1 formation himself at Stamford Bridge. A far more prolific player than Kopites ever witnessed, Sterling could be about to show exactly why Rodgers decided to utilise him in such a role in the first place all those years ago. READ NEXT Sadio Mane transfer decision could haunt Liverpool as Mohamed Salah verdict reached 'By a big amount' - Gary Neville predicts clear title winner as Jamie Carragher names Liverpool advantage 'I could have played' - Jurgen Klopp fumed after Liverpool defeat that 'made no sense' and led to £108m transfer swoop Jurgen Klopp ‘broken promise’ led to £12.5m Liverpool transfer Jake Humphrey responds to 'dropped' claims after major BT Sport decision before Liverpool game
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