‘And now, the end is near’, sang Frank Sinatra.
And so it probably is at Anfield for the talented footballer with seemingly glass legs. It’s a shame because Daniel Strurridge is damn good player, and Liverpool and England need a Sturridge.
However, his fitness, or lack of it, is the concern. There’s a feeling that Jurgen Klopp is running out of patience and Sturridge will be replaced, handed his P45 by the start of next season. If that’s the case, then there will be a few clubs lining up to take him, but with one very wary eye on his injuries.
So, where did Sturridge come from and what’s up with one of the best strikers we have?
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After being on the books at Aston Villa, he moved to Midlands neighbours Coventry City before joining the Manchester City academy at the age of 13. He signed pro forms aged 17 and trained with the City first team at the beginning of the 2006-07 season.
His first goal for The Citizens came against Sheffield United in the FA Cup and his first league goal arrived his full debut against Derby County.
It was going to be tough for the young Sturridge to break into the first team on a regular basis and in the summer of 2009, he joined Chelsea, despite City fans voted him best young player of the season.
Having signed a four year deal with Chelsea after the fee was agree by a tribunal, he once again scored on his debut in a friendly, but his first goals in a blue shirt didn’t come until the FA Cup in January 2010, when he scored a brace against Watford in the third round. As for league goals, they didn’t appear until April that season, as Chelsea beat Stoke City 7-0 at Stamford Bridge. Sturridge appeared in the 2010 FA Cup Final and finished that season with four goals, but his striking prowess had been noted, as he scored goals en route to the FA Cup Final.
Despite showing some promise, he wasn’t getting the games he needed and in January 2011, Sturridge went on loan to Bolton. Once again, this happy knack of scoring on his debut continued and in twelve appearances for Bolton, he scored eight goals. Andrea Villas-Boas was the Chelsea manager for the 2011-12 season and he gave Sturridge his chance in the first team.
It was all he needed and Sturridge provided 11 goals throughout the season and a few notable assists as well. The 2012-13 season was to be his last at Stamford Bridge as Rafa Benitez took the reigns. In January 2013, Sturridge signed a long-term contract with Liverpool for around £12m.
His goal-scoring stats for Liverpool are extremely good. According to Liverpool FC, Sturridge has scored 44 goals in 73 appearances, so despite the persistent injuries, he is still, when fit, a top player. We’ve only seen him make six appearances this year, but he has scored four times. Although he is seemingly another Andy Carroll in terms of a plague of injuries (is it a Liverpool curse?), Liverpool and England need a fit Sturridge.
On the international arena, Sturridge has played 16 games with a return of five goals.
So we have a quality player, that’s for sure, and the plaudits for Sturridge are many, but where is he now in the plans of Jurgen Klopp?
Well, firstly, Jurgen Klopp hasn’t a clue when Sturridge will play again. The 26-year-old has only played 106 minutes under Klopp and there is still no clear return to action for the player. In an interview with Sky Sports, Klopp said: “He is still working. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is a bit worse because of other issues.”
“His injury history means this [slow progress] is normal. It is no coincidence. Some things are not right if you are injured so often. We have to be really sensitive with all the information we get. That is what we try to do. We’re trying to find a point from which we can train and build up fitness.”
Rumours that West Ham were looking to buy and then make a loan bid for the player are a little ridiculous. Liverpool don’t appear to want to lose Sturridge in the January window. The transfer opening is too small to identify a potential replacement and let’s face it, if Sturridge was fit, there wouldn’t be the need for the speculation over his future.
There are also thoughts that Klopp is too harsh on Sturridge. Klopp has gone on record to suggest that Sturridge needs a long period of uninterrupted training before he plays in the first team again, but the patience at Anfield is a clock that is ticking down. Klopp says he is frustrated, but then maybe Sturridge is too. The player has a chance of going to France in the summer, but not if he’s not playing and that’s bad news for England as well.
Sturridge may have to play and put up with some pain to please Klopp and to be considered for the European Championships this summer. However, doubts still surround a talented but crocked Daniel Sturridge.
West Ham have shown incredible patience with Carroll and Arsenal with Wilshere, maybe Liverpool just need a little more patience, too?