RAHEEM STERLING revealed his downfall under Pep Guardiola came as shocking to him as it did to the rest of us.
But as soon as his playing time at the Etihad dwindled, the English favorite knew he had to go because he couldn’t afford to waste any more time.
Sterling, 27, has won TEN major honors at Manchester City, including four Premier League titles, and remains Guardiola’s most-used player for the Catalans.
The forward’s 292 appearances under Pep is 25 more than second-best Kevin De Bruyne.
While his 120 goals scored for the Spaniard is only exceeded by four by Sergio Aguero.
Still, Sterling has often been sidelined from the biggest games in recent seasons.
So much so that it came as a huge surprise when he started last year’s Champions League final, which City lost to new side Chelsea.
The Three Lions hero came on as a substitute in both semi-finals against Real Madrid last season and in the decisive final-day win against Aston Villa.
At that point, he knew it was time to move on – but was still stunned at how he’d gone from star to squad player so quickly.
Sterling, who completed a £47.5million move to Stamford Bridge last month, said: “It was a huge surprise. A tremendous surprise… a sudden change of events.
“It’s something I’ve had to deal with and that’s why I’m here.”
Things seemed to go wrong for Sterling under Guardiola after the 2-0 derby defeat at home in March 2021, which ended City’s 21-game winning streak in all competitions.
He was left as an unused sub in the following game against Southampton and then dropped from the squad altogether in the game after at Fulham.
And although Sterling played many games after that, he was never as important a squad member as he was before.
His contract at City also expired at the end of this season, so there’s a school of thought that the reigning Prem champions have decided to start making money now, particularly after the arrival of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.
The former Liverpool man said he was well aware why he could no longer be relied on for the biggest games but did not elaborate on what they were.
Sterling said: “Me and the manager and the people at the club know exactly what the reasons were.
“I tried to play my football and overcome the situation but it wasn’t possible so I had to keep going.
“I felt my playing time at City was being limited for various reasons and I couldn’t afford to waste any more time.
“When I look to the future, I never want to look back and see an up and then a down. So my feeling was that I had to stay at the same level and a new challenge was needed.
“I’ve been a regular starter since I was 17 and to reach the peak of my career, not playing regularly was something I wouldn’t accept.
“My personality is to fight and change the scenario, but it didn’t come and that was it.”
Sterling feels he is returning to his roots by joining Chelsea after growing up in Wembley, west London.
His signing ushered in the Todd Boehly era, which also saw Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka and Marc Cucurella arrive.
Frenkie De Jong and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang could follow from Barcelona.
I’m excited about the opportunity. I got this chance to come and show my talents.
Sterling is excited to be back in the lead and wants to be an influential voice in Thomas Tuchel’s dressing room.
The former QPR Academy starlet said: “It feels like coming home. It’s been a long time since I was 14 or 15 since I’ve been away from London.
“I am excited about the opportunity. I’ve been given this chance to come and show my talents and it’s one because I grew up a little bit in terms of the field and in the dressing room and in the club it’s an evolving side of me that I like more want to see.
“I want to be more involved in the dressing room decisions, be louder and try to push the team forward.
“With the few other options I had, this one was more tailored to my personal goals.
“It makes a lot of sense for my family and with the direction the club is going.
“If you look at Chelsea over the past few years I think they’ve been in four finals out of five, it’s a team that competes and keeps getting better.
“It made a lot of sense to me with the new ownership and acquisition.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5980736/raheem-sterling-chelsea-man-city-shock/ Raheem Sterling says he is shocked by his plight at Man City but is ready to lead Chelsea into a new era under Todd Boehly