Daniel Sturridge has been a shining light even during the darkest times for Liverpool over the past few seasons. His flamboyant dancing for each goal and his ambitious eye for goal have made him a favourite with the Kop since the sale of Luis Suarez.
Whilst Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez have searched for trophies elsewhere, Sturridge seems to finally feel like he belongs at Anfield, after turbulent periods at both Chelsea and Manchester City. Sturridge has grown up, he is now Daniel rather than Danny, has led the line for Liverpool and provided a goal scoring threat even when their side has been at their lowest of ebbs.
Sturridge has been loyal to Liverpool when their other superstars have gone off searching for personal glory on a different stage and the Kop are understandably a bit loved up with this characteristic. The England international boasts one of the best minute per goal ratios you will see, scoring 42 goals in 69 Liverpool appearances. None of these facts will make it easy to argue that Sturridge is actually a hindrance rather than an asset to Liverpool now.
However, his injury record in the last couple of seasons has reached the same league as Kieron Dyer or Jack Wilshere and Sturridge’s presence has been a rare treat for the Liverpool faithful.
As ever, a player who is injured seems to experience a rapid increase in their reputation and Liverpool appear to be living in a parallel universe of always expecting their star striker to be fully fit sometime soon.
In his increasingly rare appearances, Sturridge looks capable of producing his best football, but it’s almost impossible to justify his retention when he is available for what feels like 5 games a season. Whilst Liverpool fans have suffered watching Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini provide disjointed performances over the last year, they now have the opportunity to see Christian Benteke. Sturridge’s treatment like a king may end under Jurgen Klopp, but you cannot underestimate how the hero worship of Sturridge must effect the newly-arrived Belgian.
For instance, if Sturridge is ever fully fit again, will he waltz into the side ahead of the ex-Villa man? It would be a real kick in the teeth for Benteke if so, but its still tricky to see how either can quite fulfil the centre-forward role in the way Klopp desires.
Benteke’s own injury problems add to the question marks surrounding Sturridge. Maybe, just maybe, you can carry one centre-forward who is in and out of the side, but two? Surely not. The high intensity that Jurgen Klopp will expect from each of his players doesn’t lend itself to having anyone who is particularly vulnerable to injuries.
It must be best at this juncture for Liverpool to consider cashing in on Sturridge, and maybe even Benteke, to allow Klopp to build a squad as perfect for his system as possible. The ex-Chelsea striker might have a goal record that most players dream of, but stats can only take you so far if you are so rarely available.
Just recently we have hard Klopp say he needs to see Sturridge train for 10 days before he will be brought back into the squad and, with the sheer number of injuries Sturridge suffers, each recovery period of that length will begin to further reduce the number of matches he is available for.
The absurdity of suggesting a club, who have finished outside the top four the majority of the last few seasons, should be considering selling an England international striker is clear, but its more than that with Sturridge. Sturridge is a sign of the old Rodgers era and a left over of their ‘nearly season’, a player who cannot be relied upon to be free from injury and a player who it is hard to see fitting into Klopp’s gegenpressing system. Once everything is taken into account, and knowing the amount of investment Klopp may want to make, the sort of money that Liverpool could receive for Sturridge seems very reasonable.
The alternatives to Sturridge are widespread and, after an excellent display at the Etihad, there is nothing to say that Klopp won’t identify Roberto Firmino as his first choice 9.
About the author – Sam Cox
Sam is a writer who is a regular with Football FanCast and has featured on uMAXit, Colossus Bets and Late Tackle.