Daniel Sturridge, as it is sometimes easy to forget, is still a Liverpool player. Even more amazingly, he is still just 27.
Now should be the beginning of the peak years of his career. On his day, only Harry Kane – and arguably not even him – is a better English centre forward, but those days come around so infrequently they are almost irrelevant. This season so far has been particularly bleak.
The forward has really only had one consistent season at the top in his entire career – the 2013-14 season in which Liverpool came so close to winning the title – but what a level it was that he reached.
Sturridge, partnered with Luis Suarez, scored 21 Premier League goals, and was revered as being one of the key components in one of the best teams in the country, a position his talent deserves. Since then, though, he has regressed considerably.
This season in the Premier League he has only started five games out of a possible twenty nine, scoring just two and assisting once. When you are not playing, it is only natural for people to forget just how good you really are.
Back in February, he missed Liverpool’s trip to La Manga for a mid-season break, having been flown home ill. By the time the rest of the squad joined him back on Merseyside, he had picked up a hip injury, and was forced to miss out some more: a familiar tale, where he spends more time on the treatment table than the training pitch.
Sturridge is one of the best, most gifted players of his generation in this country, and to miss so much game time is a travesty. Whether he is really unfortunate with injury, or incapable of playing through the pain barrier, the England international is in danger of being wiped from history, forgotten and finished. It should have been so much different.
Jurgen Klopp clearly does not fancy him; even when he is fit, Roberto Firmino is preferred through the middle and it looks for all the world like he will move on in the summer.
But the real question is where can he go? Sturridge has already been at Manchester City and Chelsea, and of course is now at Liverpool, meaning other teams like Everton or Manchester United are ruled out.
Arsenal and Tottenham are the only top teams in England left, but there is no suggestion at all that they are interested, or that should he become available, Liverpool would allow him to go there. In the past, Liverpool have usually refused to do business with close rivals, and there is no reason for that to change now.
The likes of West Ham and Stoke have been linked, whilst Newcastle are the latest side to show an interest in the striker, but they would pay nowhere near the wages Sturridge is on now, and are not at the same footballing level either. A footballer Daniel Sturridge’s ilk deserves better, yet his recent form and fitness suggest otherwise.
The opportunity to play abroad would presumably be more attractive to the player, and a safer bet for Liverpool. PSG were supposedly interested in January and may come back in the summer; the only other genuine option would be Italy.
This summer is an important one for Daniel Sturridge. Make the wrong move, and one of the most naturally gifted English players of his generation will be wiped from the memory.
Luis Suarez, alongside whom he had his best full, consistent season with Liverpool, has gone to Barcelona and excelled, scoring 114 goals in 133 appearances to cement his place as one of the best strikers in the world.
The contrast in fortunes between the two only serves to further exaggerate the Englishman’s decline. The difference in pure ability between the pair is quite small, but Daniel Sturridge faces being completely forgotten whilst Suarez receives all the plaudits.
Daniel Sturridge is a terrific player and it would be a shame to see him bow out with such a whimper, but right now it seems to be – for one reason or another – the way he is heading.