Raheem Sterling has completed his move from Manchester City to Chelsea, with the England forward signing a five-year contract, the Premier League club confirmed on Wednesday.
Sterling is the first major signing of the summer for Chelsea and the first for the club's new owners led by Todd Boehly, who has been appointed interim chairman and is taking a central role in the Blues' transfer business. It is understood that the transfer fee is in the region of £50 million ($60m).
"I’ve obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I’m really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas’s management," Sterling said in a statement released by Chelsea.
"London is my home and where it all started for me, and it’s amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I’m really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.
"I do want to take the opportunity to thank Todd, Behdad, the ownership group, Thomas, and all involved in the process of getting me here. I can’t wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch."
Sterling was unveiled as a Chelsea player in Los Angeles, where the club are training as part of their pre-season tour of the United States. Photos released shortly after captured Sterling taking part in a training session with his new teammates, and he could feature in the opening tour match against Club America in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Sterling, 27, played an instrumental role in City's recent success after moving to the Etihad from Liverpool in 2015, scoring 131 goals in 339 games and winning four Premier League titles, four League Cups, and the 2019 FA Cup.
Last season he scored 13 goals in 30 Premier League appearances but his importance to City was becoming increasingly restricted. Sterling was on the bench for both Champions League semi-final legs against Real Madrid and was among the substitutes for the final league match of the season against Aston Villa, although it was his introduction which inspired the comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 and ensure City retained the title.
The arrivals of Norwegian striker Erling Haaland and Argentine forward Julian Alvarez were set to provide further competition for attacking places at City next season, and with Sterling entering the final year of his contract, he was reportedly keen to sort out his future.
According to reports, Sterling had several options from across Europe, with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid also credited with an interest in the England international.
Sterling published on social media a letter to Manchester City to thank the club and its fans for their support during his seven years at the Etihad.
"Seven seasons, eleven major trophies, a lifetime of memories," the letter read. "I arrived in Manchester as a 20-year-old. Today, I leave as a man. Thank you for your endless support. It's been an honour to wear the shirt of Manchester City."
His arrival at Stamford Bridge ensures manager Thomas Tuchel has landed one of his key transfer targets and it is understood the German's pitch to Sterling for how he envisions his role within the team was central to convincing the player that Chelsea was the right move.
Tuchel had made the signing of a proven, top-level forward one of his priorities following Romelu Lukaku's return to Inter Milan on a season-long loan. The Belgian had returned to the Blues for a club record £97.5m last summer but the move ultimately proved disastrous.
While Lukaku topped Chelsea's scoring charts with 15 goals in all competitions and started last season well, he soon struggled within Tuchel's system and made public his frustration in an explosive interview. It is hoped Sterling's pace and versatility will be better suited to Tuchel's fluid attacking set-up.
"Raheem Sterling is a serial winner and his signing is an important step in strengthening our squad," Boehly said. "We are delighted for Raheem to return to London with Chelsea, and we look forward to seeing his world-class talent on display at Stamford Bridge."
With Sterling now added to the ranks, Chelsea are expected to turn their attention to boosting their defensive options after the departures of Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona left the Blues short of centre-backs. Chelsea are understood to be in discussions over moves for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Sterling's former City teammate Nathan Ake.