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Home   /   Raheem Sterling: the missing piece of the England puzzle?

Sub-edited by Freddie Potter

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Gareth Southgate has once again faced strong criticism over his England squad selection for the most recent international break, where his side produced an underwhelming 2-0 win against Malta followed by a 1-1 draw with North Macedonia. Many have argued that England lack an attacking ‘spark’ or energy that a team of its quality should be facilitating and enabling to flourish each and every game. Raheem Sterling is the most high profile name omitted from the most recent England squad and Southgate could be missing a key piece of the puzzle in excluding him once again. 

Southgate, when asked about Sterling, said: “Who am I leaving out to put him [Sterling] in?”. This comes across as somewhat ignorant when, statistically, Sterling has more output (goals/assists) at club level for Chelsea this season, than his England competition at their respective clubs – Jack Grealish at Manchester City and Marcus Rashford at Manchester United. It’s no secret that Grealish has struggled to settle into the dominant Manchester City side, regularly losing his starting place to Jeremy Doku this season, whilst Marcus Rashford’s goal drought for Manchester United is well documented. 

In all competitions, Sterling has six goals and two assists this season – compared to Grealish’s zero goals and two assists and Rashford’s two goals and three assists. This corresponds to a goal contribution for Sterling every 149 minutes, whilst Rashford averages a contribution every 268 minutes and Grealish averages a contribution every 408 minutes. Furthermore, it is evident that the Chelsea winger is the most in-form left-sided attacker, at club level, that England have at their disposal. It could also be argued that he is performing with better output in a worse team than both Rashford and Grealish – with Chelsea currently occupying 10th in the table whilst Rashford and Grealish’s teams sit 6th and 2nd respectively. Therefore, there is no reason why, at club-level, Raheem Sterling should be omitted while statistically inferior players are included instead. 

The other variable that is relevant is each player’s output for the national team itself. Sterling, one of the main reasons for England’s relative success of reaching the final at Euro 2020, has achieved 4 goals and 5 assists at major competitions (Euros and World Cups), whereas Rashford has just 3 goals and Grealish has 1 goal and 2 assists. Sterling is a proven, consistent provider of goal output for England at major tournaments and this should not be disregarded or its worth diminished. Sterling is second only to Harry Kane in the England scoring charts in the past decade, with 20 total goals. Separate from his exceptional goalscoring prowess, his creative ability has also been evident when playing for England, registering 27 assists. 

There is no reason either creatively or goal-scoring wise that Raheem Sterling should not be in the England squad. His form this season at club-level and his consistent output for England at major tournaments means that he must be on the plane to Berlin for Euro 2024. At his electrifying best, he is unstoppable. It would be extremely naive and a major oversight for him to not be included in England’s squad for the foreseeable future. 

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May 2024