Raheem Sterling will be welcomed by Chelsea fans despite racist abuse episode, says Thomas Tuchel

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 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel is confident Raheem Sterling will receive a warm welcome from Chelsea fans despite the forward suffering abuse in the past.

Sterling was racially abused during a match at Stamford Bridge in 2018 and has been given a hostile reception whenever he has played against Chelsea for Manchester City.

Chelsea issued a lifetime ban to the supporter accused of shouting racist abuse at Sterling as he retrieved the ball in front of the Matthew Harding stand, while five other fans were temporarily banned for their behaviour during the match.

The incident did not come up in the talks over his £47.5million transfer to Chelsea but Tuchel is sure the 27-year-old will have a positive relationship with Blues supporters.

“I had a long talk with him and he had no hesitation about coming,” said Tuchel, speaking at the Chelsea training camp here in Los Angeles on their pre-season tour of America.

“He didn’t mention [the incident in 2018] and I think he knows that one person does not reflect the opinion and the values of Chelsea. Whoever did this has no right to ever come to a football stadium.

“He should be held responsible for what he did. He is stupid enough to have done it and hold these kinds of opinions. From there, we don’t worry any more. He is more than welcome in our group.

“I told him that everyone is very excited and happy to get [the transfer] over the finishing line. His arrival gave us a big boost and it is hopefully only the beginning of a strong transfer [window] where we need to be competitive. I see no other reason to give him anything other than a very warm welcome with us and how we work together.”

Sterling signed a five-year deal worth more than £300,000 a week to become the best-paid player at Chelsea and the first marquee signing of the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital era.

He is in line to make his first appearance in a Chelsea shirt in a friendly against Club America in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In Pictures | Chelsea sign Raheem Sterling

Tuchel revealed he immediately identified Sterling as his top attacking target during talks with Boehly and Clearlake following their takeover in May.

“He was the absolute No1 for that position,” said the Chelsea head coach. “I gave his name to Todd straight away. Every time we played against him, he was horrible! The main point is his intensity and the amount of repetition of intensity that he delivers. This is simply outstanding over the last years.”

Tuchel has told Chelsea he is happy with Sterling as his only replacement for Romelu Lukaku and not to pursue a move for another striker.

But the German revealed he would be interested in Robert Lewandowski if he becomes available, though he does not think that will happen.

“I don’t think we have a chance for Lewandowski but if there is a chance… he is one of the best No9s,” said Tuchel.

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