Can Sterling be a success at City?

Sterling's £49 million transfer from Liverpool made him the most expensive English player of all time, and places a considerable amount of pressure on the youngster to succeed. After all, for a combined fee of £51m Manchester United have bought in Memphis Depay (one of the Netherlands' brightest lights), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany's captain) and Matteo Darmian (Italy's right-back) – that's a lot of firepower for just £2 million more!

New Liverpool recruit James Milner knows first hand how difficult it can be to crack into the Manchester City starting line-up. During his five seasons at the Etihad, Milner enjoyed considerably more success than fellow English recruits, the likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, and Joleon Lescott, but on his departure still issued a warning about the perils of joining City.

“I had one season in the middle at Villa and that prompted City to spend a hell of a lot of money for me,” Milner told The Sun.

“I was in the team of the year, went to the World Cup as one of the in-form centre midfielders but never really got that chance at City and developed into a utility player.

“There were times I won Player of the Month and then didn’t play for three, four or five games after. It was very frustrating at times. It’s disappointing I did not get the chance to maybe play 20 games in the middle and show people what I could do. You want a fair crack of the whip and if you’re playing well you deserve to hold on to the shirt.

“I felt valued by the manager and the club but I was always going to be filling in.”

If Sterling was listening, he certainly thought better of the advice of his England team-mate.

There is no doubting Sterling's talent – or his self-confidence – but at City he is going to be competing against some of the world's best players and there are question marks surrounding whether or not he is good enough to make it at the Etihad.

Former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson certainly thinks he's not worth the £49 million that City have shelled out.

"He's certainly a good player, but he's not a great player and that's why you won't find too many Liverpool fans shedding any tears for him," Thompson told The Mirror.

"Last season wasn't a great season for him. The one before that he did well with Suarez. But last year we were looking for a lot from him, but he didn't deliver. Luis Suarez is world class, but Sterling is nowhere near Suarez's capabilities, although he's still a very good player.

"City are paying for potential. Raheem's had 13 or 14 assists in the three years and has scored something like 18 league goals. You need a little bit more than that."

Interestingly, for all the talk of Sterling's decline last season, the stats suggest that while he scored fewer goals in the league, he created more for those around him.

Just in case

But this isn't just about Sterling, it's also about those around him. One would expect Sterling to play on the wing or just behind one or two strikers, and he'll be battling with David Silva, Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri for those positions.

Sterling has the edge over the trio of competitors in terms of age – at 20 he is eight years younger than Nasri and nine years younger than Navas and Silva. But while that may point to future success, does Sterling shape up to the City midfielders now?

Just in case

It's Navas who Sterling is most likely to displace, and the Spaniard is certainly the weakest link in the City attack. Sterling has a real chance to carve out his place in the City line-up, if Manuel Pellegrini takes a chance on him from the start in place of Navas.

As illustrated in the table above, Navas produces a lot of ball for his strikers, but he doesn't offer much in the way of goals – in 95 matches for the Citizens he has scored just nine goals, and that could be what gets Sterling into the line-up.

It's easy to look at the Sterling deal and think that the youngster is destined for the City scrap heap, yet another expensive failure to add to the Etihad collection, but the 20-year-old has the potential to make this move a success. The tremendous lack of goodwill towards him at present means that few will admit it, but Sterling could well be primed for a profitable spell on the blue half of Manchester.