Rio Ferdinand: Raheem Sterling has to survive the Manchester City transfer fee “banter”

The former world's most expensive defender and BT Sport pundit expects Raheem Sterling to play through the pressure and teammate challenges – but still predicts Chelsea to win the title

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Rio’s Premier League champions

Chelsea are the team to beat. They have the best squad, they have the most balance. The only difference after the Community Shield is that Arsenal know they can beat Chelsea.

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Everyone knows about the rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, and you only create rivalries with people when you are vying for the same thing. Ferguson never argued with Wenger when Arsenal were finishing third or fourth. He only argued and had problems with him when they were up there for the league. Same with Rafael Benitez at Liverpool. They only argue when they’re genuine rivals. What’s the point of arguing with someone who is not a threat?

The Man Utd worry

Defensively is my main concern for United. Last season, possession-wise, they were very good, kept the ball, created chances. But defensively they gave up a lot of chances: David de Gea had to save them on numerous occasions throughout the season.

Keeping hold of him is a huge part of their season, but they also need a centre back.

Rio’s Raheem advice

Raheem Sterling has a huge season ahead of him, having just gone to a huge club on a huge fee, with Euro 2016 at the end of the year. Expectations are high; he has to produce.

I believe he’ll have a good season. But with that fee, a good season might not be good enough. Seven goals and six assists are not going to be enough this time.

It depends who he has around him. I didn’t speak about my fee to Manchester United [£29.1 million, a record for a British player in 2002]  to friends and family at all, and they never spoke to me about it. 

The biggest pressure I had was the first couple of training sessions, showing fellow teammates that it had been money well spent. There was banter about my transfer then.

I don’t know what it’s like a City, but you have to deal with that; it’s about having the mental capacity to deal with that type of stuff.

Rio’s England hopefuls

This is a big year for Jack Wilshere too. He has a fight to get into the team at Arsenal. With England, he has always been talked about as a great hope, and he’s got to start to show he can lead a team.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain too has a good chance of playing a bigger role for England this year. Along with Sterling, England have some really exciting forward players coming through now.

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Rio is working full-time as a football expert and presenter for BT Sport. The first match of the new season between Man Utd and Tottenham Hotspur is live on BT Sport from 12pm – kick-off 12.45pm.