Raheem Sterling was overlooked by Gareth Southgate for his England squads for their Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine and a friendly match against Scotland, even after a strong start to the season for Chelsea. Sterling scored twice in the Blues’ win over Luton but arguably had his best game in the season opener against Liverpool when he was a constant thorn in the side of Jurgen Klopp’s men throughout the second half.
The 28-year-old would have believed that his form would earn a recall to the Three Lions line-up after being left out of England’s games over the summer. However, Southgate opted against recalling Sterling in favour of younger players, leaving the forward annoyed with the decision, to say the least.
But as Sterling seeks to earn a recall to the England squad ahead of Euro 2024, having played an integral part in the Three Lions’ drive to the final of the last European Championships, could his disappointment be to Chelsea’s gain?
Chelsea will now have a motivated Sterling on their hands, which could be huge for the club in their bid to return to the top four of the Premier League. The Blues are outsiders in the Premier League odds to reclaim a Champions League place, but the form of Sterling may swing the balance, especially if he can rediscover his goalscoring prowess from his peak days at Manchester City.
Unlike in his City days, Sterling now has the responsibility of leading the attack. He has to be clinical in front of goal and cannot expect multiple chances. The forward was at his best for City arguably in the season where they failed to win the Premier League crown losing out to Liverpool. With Sergio Aguero missing a third of the season, Sterling fired 20 goals in just 33 appearances, his best league tally. He was equally effective in the Champions League with six goals in nine games, although again City fell short of their goal.
The early signs of his performances in his second season with Chelsea are extremely positive. After a difficult first term at Stamford Bridge under three managers, Sterling now has a defined role in the team under Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine is no stranger to his talents, having seen his rise and maturation while at Southampton and Tottenham in his previous stints in the Premier League dugout. Sterling is assured of a regular starting place and it seems to have boosted his confidence, particularly in and around the penalty area.
His role will not only be to score goals but to allow younger players to flourish alongside him in a similar way that Luis Suarez did during Sterling’s breakout season for Liverpool in the 2013/14 campaign. Suarez did the heavy lifting, while Sterling was afforded time and patience to use his natural ability to push the Reds towards a title challenge.
If Sterling wants to prove Southgate wrong and earn his recall for the Euros, he will have to be flawless amid the competition for places. But, he will have the perfect situation to show that he can be the main man and thrive on his own merit.