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Sterling: Diet change caused poor debut campaign at Chelsea

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Raheem Sterling has said a change in diet affected his first season at Chelsea and may have contributed to lingering fitness problems.

The forward made 38 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea after joining from Manchester City in a £47.5 million ($61.1m) move last July but suffered persistent hamstring problems and missed England’s final two squads of the season.

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Sterling sat out June’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia following discussions with England boss Gareth Southgate, who later said that the winger was “not happy physically with his condition” and “doesn’t think he’s operating at the level he needs.”

The 28-year-old struggled to consistently produce his best form at Stamford Bridge but is aiming to put a mixed campaign behind him as part of Chelsea’s 29-man squad on tour in the United States.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Premier League Summer Series clash against Brighton in Philadelphia, he told reporters: “In the season I changed a bit of my diet and went to do something a little bit different that I had not done before.

“And I had a little bit more KG on me that I have not had before. I think probably carrying a little bit of extra weight, I had a few hamstring problems and that was it. Towards the end of the season the hamstring was playing up again. Me and the manager made a decision together that the best thing for me to do was to get the hamstring right.”

A source close to Sterling told ESPN that he adjusted his diet during the season to try and correct muscular problems and increase his energy. However, he found he was building more muscle and engaged a nutritionist to help discover a better balance.

Sterling added that he was now “just eating a little bit less” and believes his fitness problems are behind him.

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“Yeah I am just working,” he added. “Preseason is always a way to get the body right and I am in a great place.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino reacted by saying: “I need to change my diet also. Me also, yes, I need. Maybe I will ask him about it, how he change his diet!”

Meanwhile, Chelsea confirmed the departure of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who joined Ligue 1 club Marseille on Friday.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that the 34-year-old decided to end his contract at Stamford Bridge and sign for the French club on a free transfer.

Aubameyang made just five Premier League starts, netting once against Crystal Palace in October.

He also scored twice in the Champions League group stage but was then left out of Chelsea’s squad for the knockout stages.

“We would like to thank Pierre and wish him well as he begins the next chapter of his career,” Chelsea said in a short statement.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.

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