What does Man City's Grealish acquisition mean for Sterling?

Martin Macdonald
Three clubs that could rescue Raheem Sterling from Man City this summer

Manchester City are on the cusp of breaking the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for a cool £100 million.

The Villa captain has developed into one of the most creative and exciting players in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons and in 2020/21 recorded the third-highest tally of assists in the top-flight despite missing three months of action.

Even before the European Championship started he was the subject of interest from both Manchester City and Manchester United, who were looking into the possibility of a £100m transfer.

His stock has rose during the Euros, too, as he came off the bench to play a role in both goals as England defeated Germany in the first knockout stage, while he featured in the semi-final and final also.

With Man Utd having now signed Jadon Sancho, Man City have a clear run at Grealish and have opened up talks with Aston Villa to make him the most expensive Englishman in history.

Pep Guardiola will get his man, then, but the transfer will open up plenty of questions for the City boss when it comes to team selection.

In addition to Grealish, he will have Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling who can play within the front three attacking roles.

The player who stands to lose the most from Grealish's arrival is Sterling.

Sterling's Man City future

Sterling was one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2020 and certainly England's best player as he scored two and recorded an assist on the way to the final.

Even with the pressure of playing with the Three Lions, Sterling would have welcomed the opportunity to move on from his average season with Man City and try and reclaim his best form.

Sterling was by no means bad in 2020/21, but his tally of 17 Premier League goal contributions was his worst since 2016/17.

Even though Man City would go on to win the league, he was not relied upon greatly in the run in, with Foden usually preferred on the left.

The player who stands to lose the most from Grealish's arrival is Sterling

His best overall campaign came in 2018 when he had 29 goal contributions.

In terms of pure goalscoring, he bagged 20 in 2019/20 which was the best return of his career.

Assists jumped up from one to seven in 2020/21, but his ruthlessness in front of goal reverted back to the naive forward we seen miss plenty of chances for Liverpool and in his early days at City.

Grealish, meanwhile, has only had two full Premier League campaigns under his belt, and recorded 10 assists last season which has only been bettered once by Sterling in his entire career in the top flight, and in a much better team.

They are, of course, very different players.

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

Sterling has adapted his game from a tricky winger into basically a wide striker, and can usually be found as City's most advanced player attempting to get on the end of crosses.

Grealish won't do that, he'll collect the ball from deep and attempt to dance his way into the danger area.

But, for the majority of their respective careers they have been deployed on the left wing, even if their specific jobs are different.

Sterling and Grealish can obviously play together, with the former moving to the right or into centre-forward or the latter into a number 10 role.

It is becoming increasingly likely, unless City purchase Harry Kane, that Guardiola will play without a centre-forward, which would open up more opportunities for Sterling in particular.

But one thing is for certain, £100m Grealish won't be behind him in the pecking order.