Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling believed he had to leave Manchester City or risk spending the “peak time” of his career on the bench.
Sterling won four Premier League titles over the past five seasons at City, as well as six more major trophies across his seven-year stint in sky blue.
But the England international’s game time had become more limited over the past two seasons, due to the emergence of exciting up-and-comer Phil Foden.
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City also signed former Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish for £100 million (A$210m), which also impacted Sterling’s playing time under Pep Guardiola.
Sterling said he “couldn’t afford” to spend more time with the Citizens, after playing regular first team football since he was a teenager
“I just felt my time at City was getting limited on playing time for different reasons,” Sterling said at a press conference this week.
“I couldn’t afford to waste that time. So I needed to keep that same level and a fresh challenge.
“It’s something that since 17, I’d been a regular staring, so to get to a peak time in my career, not to play regularly is something I wouldn’t accept. I tried to fight and change the scenario but it didn’t come.
“At first, I had a few options but this was the one that was tailor-made for my personal goals. It made a lot of sense for my family and with the direction of the club.
“I have a lot of memories and top moments at City but in the year and a bit that I was in and out of the team, it made me value a lot of things.
“It was difficult and my kids went to school there but it’s one of those things in life where you have to make the right decision for yourself and your family.”
Sterling scored 131 goals in 337 appearances for City, which is exactly why Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was so interested in luring the star attacker to Stamford Bridge for £47m (A$80m).
Chelsea banned one fan for life and handed out five more temporary suspensions after Sterling was racially abused while playing for City.
Sterling and teammate Kyle Walker both received monkey emojis after City’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final.
But he said that the incident had no impact on his decision to join the club.
“That’s the first time I’ve actually even remembered it,” he added.
“It wasn’t anything that played on my mind at all. I can’t let abuse from individuals affect my perception of a club.”