Chelsea star Raheem Sterling ‘miles off it’ and a ‘shadow of himself’, says John Obi Mikel | Football

Raheem Sterling has been ‘miles off it’ this season, according to John Obi Mikel (Picture: Getty)

Former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel has highlighted Raheem Sterling’s concerning drop off in form, claiming the forward has been ‘miles off it’ and a ‘shadow of himself’ this season.

Sterling completed a £47million move from Manchester City to Chelsea in the summer of 2022 and it’s fair to say the 29-year-old has blown hot and cold in his opening 18 months in west London.

Last season, Sterling managed just six goals in the Premier League as Chelsea finished down in 12th place and while the attacker has already equalled that tally this term, he’s yet to get anywhere near the heights he reached at his peak with City and Liverpool.

In the Blues’ Carabao Cup final defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, Sterling was largely anonymous and was brought off by Mauricio Pochettino in the 67th minute, with Christopher Nkunku coming on his place at Wembley.

Sterling will hope to return to form against Leeds United this evening, but there is no guarantee he will continue his run in the side at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea look to book their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

‘I think he’s miles off it to be honest at this point,’ ex-Chelsea midfielder Mikel said on the Obi One Podcast.

‘He’s not the player that we saw at Manchester City or the player that we were used to watching. A low centre of gravity, a player a bit like [Eden] Hazard. Very fast, very quick, can go past players easily, very good technically on the ball.

Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Mikel hopes to see Sterling return to form this season (Picture: Getty)

‘I think he actually started the season really well, he was playing well.

‘He was creating chances, he was taking people on and he became the Raheem Sterling we know from before.

‘But then I think he did all that because he wanted to get into the England team.’

Sterling has scored just 12 league goals since arriving from Manchester City (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate has left Sterling out of his two most recent England squads and Mikel believes this may have dented the confidence of the four-time Premier League winner ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

‘I think the first call up that came during the start of the season his name wasn’t there and that took a lot of his confidence, I would say. After that he just went, his head just went,’ Mikel added.

‘Since then, I haven’t seen the Raheem Sterling that started the season. He’s been a shadow of himself.

‘I think he still has a lot to offer. Is it at Chelsea or is it somewhere else? That we have to decide at the end of the season.’

Pochettino is yet to get the best out of the England attacker (Picture: Getty)

Gary Neville scathingly branded Pochettino’s players ‘billion pound bottle jobs’ on Sky Sports’ commentary of the Carabao Cup final, a remark which has proven divisive amongst Chelsea supporters.

While Mikel disagrees with Neville’s turn of phrase, he feels his former club missed a huge opportunity to get their hands on a trophy by failing to capitalise against a vastly inexperienced Liverpool team.

‘We’ve spent more than a billion and when you look at it that way, is it right, is it not right? It depends on how you look at the whole situation, the whole game,’ he went on.

‘Pochettino came out to defend his team, saying that his team was also young. But then when you look at the Liverpool team that finished the game, I think we were playing against their youth for over 50 minutes or something like that in the game.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville

Neville labelled Chelsea’s players ‘billion pound bottle jobs’ (Picture: Getty)

‘When I look back at it I think we should have capitalised on that. [Mohamed] Salah, [Darwin] Nunez and all those guys’ strengths, they didn’t start the game.

‘Then when you see the big names coming out of the game like [Alexis] Mac Allister and the rest of them leaving the game and then the kids coming on, I thought that’s where we could have gone to ourselves and said: “Okay, now we have to win this game because we’re literally playing against a Liverpool youth team that doesn’t have that much experience”.

‘Yes, a coach can say Chelsea are also a young team but they’re a more experienced young team. [Enzo] Fernandez has won the World Cup, [Moises] Caicedo is an established Premier League player, Cole Palmer as well, Raheem Sterling… they’re a young team but have more experience in that team than the Liverpool team that finished the game and that’s where we could have capitalised on that to go on and do more, push off, be aggressive.’

Mikel continued: ‘Of course Gary Neville has had his say but I wouldn’t call them bottle jobs.

‘But I would I was disappointed we didn’t do more against the youth team of Liverpool because there were so many inexperienced players that came on for Liverpool.

‘On that big stage, that’s where our young, established, experienced players should have capitalised and gone on to win the game easily.’

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