Raheem Sterling has confirmed his Manchester City departure and said he was leaving the club as “a man”.
The 27-year-old’s £50m move to Premier League rivals Chelsea is expected in the next 24 hours.
The England forward issued a heartfelt goodbye message to his former team-mates and the club’s staff and fans on his social media account.
“I arrived in Manchester a 20-year-old. Today, I leave as a man,” said Sterling.
“Seven seasons, 11 major trophies, a lifetime of memories.”
City signed Sterling from Liverpool in a £49m deal in 2015. He went on to score 131 goals in 339 games, winning four Premier League titles.
Capped 77 times by England, Sterling will become Chelsea’s first major signing since the Todd Boehly-led takeover.
He added: “I am thankful for the ups and downs, as it’s the downs that have tested my strength and resolve and enable me to stand here in front of you as the best possible version of myself.”
Sterling will now link up with the Chelsea squad who flew out for their pre-season tour to the United States on Saturday.
Sterling’s deal is worth up to £50m including add-ons and is expected to be a five-year contract with an option for an extra year. Sterling had one year left on his contract at City and had attracted interest from major clubs overseas.
Chelsea are also looking to strengthen in defence following the loss of Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona. They are also pursuing City’s 27-year-old Dutch defender Nathan Ake, as well as Napoli and Senegal centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, 31.
Sterling boosts Chelsea attacking options
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was looking to boost his attacking ranks after Romelu Lukaku rejoined Inter Milan on a season-long loan.
The Belgium striker was the Blues’ top scorer last season with 15 goals in all competitions, narrowly ahead of Kai Havertz (14) and Mason Mount (13).
Since Pep Guardiola became City manager in 2016, only Sergio Aguero (124) has scored more goals for City than Sterling (120).
Sterling scored 13 goals in 30 Premier League appearances last season as he won his fourth league title, his 11th major honour in seven seasons with City.
But his opportunities were restricted by last summer’s signing of Jack Grealish, while forwards Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez have arrived at Etihad Stadium this summer.
Sterling was on the bench for both legs of the Champions League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid and the epic final game of the season against Aston Villa.
However, he did spark a memorable last-day comeback by setting up Ilkay Gundogan’s crucial first goal as City came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and pip Liverpool to the league title.