Daniel Sturridge may well be the most frustrating footballer in the history of the English game. Liverpool fans will know what we’re talking about, with the forward having left them in a perpetual state of anticipation for much of the past two years as he consistently bounces back from injury, before quickly sliding off to the treatment table.
In fact, Sturridge has basically been a ‘one in two’ player since joining the Reds from Chelsea in 2013, albeit not in a scoring sense, rather in terms of availability for games. But, therein lies the problem, when he can play, he’s lethal – arguably the best finisher English football has produced for some time. He has the best goals-to-games ratio of any Liverpool player in the modern era, his movement gets the best out of the likes of Philippe Coutinho and he’s a constant worry of opposing players.
So what to do now that Paris Saint-Germain are looking to make a £45m offer is a real conundrum.
There is a sense of logic in accepting the bid should it come, and if that is indeed the course of action the Merseyside giants take, here are FIVE options they could pursue to replace Sturridge…
Arguably the hottest name on the European striking market last summer, Lacazette remains at Lyon, but the coming window could be the one in which he moves on. Reports over January revealed that Newcastle had an offer of around £22m accepted by the Ligue 1 club, only for the France international to rebuff a move, so there is genuine scope for the player to head away from the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
With 41 goals in his last 60 league outings, there’s no doubting Lacazette’s goalscoring credentials, and the success of players moving across the Channel in recent seasons suggests that the void in terms of quality between the two nations’ top tiers is not as large as it once was. Lacazette himself is known for his pace and clever movement, making him a ‘Sturridge-lite’ option, without the horrendous injury record.
We’ll stay in Ligue 1 and look at Marseille’s main man, Batshuayi, now. The Belgian is the latest top striker to roll off his nation’s conveyer belt of talent, and has really broken through with l’OM this term after being made the main man on the Mediterranean coast following Andre-Pierre Gignac’s move to Tigres in Mexico. 13 goals in 30 league outings this season is not the most amazing of returns, but the 22-year-old has weighed in with nine assists, showing that his willing running and hold-up play make him the sort of player that could lead the line and bring other players into the action in a fluid attack – the sort Klopp seems to appreciate.
Not a typical; ‘Klopp player’, Higuain isn’t likely to run the channels for 90 minutes and ‘put himself about’, but the Argentine is, arguably, the best finisher in European football right now. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (28) has netted more league goals than the Serie A hot-shot (27) this season, with the ex-River Plate star almost single-handedly keeping his Napoli side in the race for the Serie A title.
There have been reports that Liverpool are sniffing around Higuain, but one suspects it would be tricky to convince him to turn his back on Champions League football in Naples. However, money speaks in modern football.
Not dissimilar to Luis Suarez, Icardi is a bundle of energy, tenacity and controversy. The Argentine’s all-action playing style has garnered 43 league goals in the last three seasons, which is some return for a player who is now just 23 and has been playing in one of the worst Inter Milan sides in living memory. His desire to press and hurry opponents from the front seems tailor-made for Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ philosophy, while he’s known as being a player with incredible natural fitness – unlike Sturridge.
At 29, Bacca is by no means a long-term option, but for an instant hit of energy and goals, the Colombian fits the bill. The ex-Sevilla man only signed for AC Milan last summer, but with the Rossoneri staring at the prospect of being out of the Champions League once again, financial factors may come into play and force them to accept decent offers for their star forward.
The 5ft. 11” hit-man has netted 14 in 30 league matches this season, and has scored over 200 times in his senior career.