It came as a surprise to many to see Manchester City sell several important players in one transfer window. Things are usually the opposite at the Etihad Stadium as City buy more first-team players than they sell in every transfer window. But as all of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko sought more playing time, something had to give.
Pep Guardiola would not guarantee anyone sufficient playing time. And with contracts running down, they had to be sold. Since departing for London to join Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, the three players have been afforded what they lacked at City. Sterling and Jesus in particular are seen as key to their new clubs. And they are delivering the goods.
For those who didn’t understand the situation with his departure, the Brazilian set the records straight after his Man-of-the-Match performance against Leicester.
‘’I was not unhappy at Manchester City, I just wanted to play and the club understood,’’ he told Premier League Productions.
He wanted to play and score goals. He wanted to feature regularly as he is doing now at Arsenal. He and Zinchenko are playing regular football and winning too. Their impact on the team has contributed to Arsenal’s excellent start to the season. The Gunners sit comfortably at the top of the Premier League table.
They’ve got Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal faithful dreaming. The duo see this as an opportunity not only to go out on the pitch and express themselves week in, week out, but to also play key roles in the team and hopefully win trophies with the club.
The same applies to Raheem Sterling who has also opened his goal account at Chelsea. The forward is currently Chelsea’s top-scorer for the season with three goals, scoring in back-to-back games against Leicester and Southampton.
But for him, it’s not just about scoring goals. He wanted to play regularly. The minutes were becoming harder and harder to come by at City with Guardiola spoilt for choice. Adding new forwards to the team meant Sterling had to move or risk spending even more time on the bench.
Of his situation at the Etihad Stadium, the 28-year-old stated that he was frustrated.
“At the time I was fuming, raging, but it’s gone, it’s in the past and I can only focus on the present, which is now, here at Chelsea, and the opportunity I’ve got here to go out and showcase my talents once again,” Sterling said.
For players looking for game time and a feeling of real importance in the team, Sterling, Jesus and Zinchenko are getting what they want and then some.
The Brazilian has already become a fan favourite at the Emirates Stadium while Sterling is carrying Chelsea on his back at the moment. That must give them great joy and make their moves away from City worthwhile.
The best piece of news though is that City are even stronger now despite their departure. So it's a win-win for both parties.