Daniel Sturridge’s season looks to be over. The Liverpool forward has suffered another setback with his recurring hip injury, and the net result is that he looks unlikely to kick a ball in a Reds’ shirt again.
Injuries have plagued Sturridge’s career, and he appears to no longer be in the plans of Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. So is this the end for Sturridge and if so, is that the right decision?
Sturrige’s time is up
First, whether Sturridge will leave. Klopp has said that he will hold talks with the striker at the end of the season, but it looks fair to say that Sturridge’s race has been run at Anfield. Injuries have been a factor, but nevertheless he has not been first choice this season under Klopp and has started just five Premier League games, scoring just the two goals. Sturridge doesn’t appear to even be second choice, as when he has been fit, both Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino have been selected in front of him.
Whilst this in itself isn’t evidence that Klopp wants to sell Sturridge, it is evidence that Sturridge isn’t in his long term plans. That means that sooner or later, Sturridge will be heading through the Anfield exit door, and with his injuries a constant concern, Sturridge himself will know that for the sake of his career, he has to leave and rebuild elsewhere. All things considered, it looks likely that he will never play for the club again.
The right call?
So is that the right decision? That’s a harder question to answer. Few Liverpool fans, and certainly Klopp, cannot deny Sturridge is one of the most talented players in the squad, with only Phillipe Coutinho and debatably Sadio Mané possessing more raw talent. But injuries have wrecked Sturridge’s career and whilst there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that it’s finished his talent, he certainly has struggled to impose himself on the team on the rare chances he’s been given this season. There are also suggestions that he doesn’t fit into Klopp’s system, but those are neither true, nor, truthfully, important.
What is crucial for Klopp is goals, and Liverpool are in need of a regular striker to score goals week in, week out, as Mané remains the club’s top scorer, despite Firmino starting 31 games this season, and most of those as a centre-forward. And if Liverpool bring in another forward, then that simply pushes Sturridge further down the ladder.
If Sturridge isn’t in Klopp’s plans, then sadly it is time for him to go, and Liverpool have too many injury-prone players at the club to rely on another one in Sturridge. And if, as expected, Sturridge leaves Liverpool this summer, he should leave a hero, albeit one with unfulfilled potential.
Fans are keen to imply Sturridge’s good form in the 13/14 season that nearly brought the title to Anfield was all down to his strike partner Luis Suárez, but that ignores the fact that Sturridge has scored regularly throughout his Liverpool career when fit, contributing 24 goals that season and 45 goals in 84 league games including sub appearances.
Sturridge has been injury wracked for his entire Liverpool career, and the fact that he’s only started more than 11 league games in one season: 13/14, is damning. But it’s also not his fault, and Sturridge is the biggest victim, not the fans or the club. Rather than lambasting him for the injuries that have ruined his career at Liverpool, fans should be saluting a player who has given this club some amazing memories in his time here, and wishing him luck for the future.