Raheem Sterling declared his best position as on the wing, but Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel ‘liked a lot’ what he saw from his new signing in the false nine role against Everton last weekend.
Sterling has played as a winger for much of his career, but has also appeared as a central striker at Manchester City and has regularly played just off the centre-forward for England.
On his Premier League debut for Chelsea at Goodison Park he was deployed as a false nine, with Kai Havertz and also in the attack as the Blues beat the home side 1-0.
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s big clash with Tottenham on Sunday, Sterling said he was happy to play across the front line, but his main position is on the wing.
‘As you all know, my position is mainly as a winger,’ he said. ‘Some of the time I enjoy floating about and getting on the ball.
‘But I always judge myself on how effective I am on the games, so it depends on where I’m going to be most effective at the moment.
‘The last game against Everton I played from the false nine position. And again, I’ll be most happy where I can be effective and help my team.’
Tuchel certainly liked what he saw from Sterling as a false nine and with Chelsea lacking a senior centre-forward he may well stay in that position.
Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner have both left the club this summer, with Armando Broja the only recognised centre-forward in Tuchel’s plans, it is likely that Sterling as a false nine will continue.
‘I think he should play in the last line or in between the defensive lines to drive towards the last line or run through the last line,’ said Tuchel. ‘He was very, very good in training in this free role as a number nine, dropping into half-spaces. It’s such a lot of quality that there are many spaces to use for him.
‘He can play from the wing, of course, he is used to playing there. He was very dangerous, had an offside goal and a big chance from number nine, which was more of a free role for him to play, and I liked it a lot.
‘Things are not finished. He came late to our pre-season. One thing is clear, the kind of impact he has physically and mentally, in terms of quality, it’s huge no matter where he plays.’
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