How our best striker has become a forgotten man

People are talking about Christian Benteke. They are talking about, for whatever reason, Alexandre Lacazette and Marco Reus; about Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli.

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People are talking about Danny Ings, Divock Origi and, most certainly, Raheem Sterling. They are even talking, still, about Luis Suarez.

But nobody is really talking about Daniel Sturridge.

It is a strange situation. After supporters – and, in truth, the team – spent a large part of last season waiting for him to rise from the treatment table and continue his goal-a-minute scoring rate, he’s become the forgotten striker of the club.

That should not be the case, given how unforgettable he can be. On the pitch, he is an extrovert, possessing an eye-catching style in possession, his left foot rearing back and forth, always sniffing out the best moment to strike the ball. Off the pitch, he also has a strong presence, his social media use more Kim Kardashian than Kim Jong-un.
And yet, he has hardly been mentioned this summer. There was brief interest in his recovery from injury, which is primarily taking place in Boston, but little else.

The fact he will miss the start of the new season with a hip injury has played a part in that, of course. The past year was disappointment after disappointment for Sturridge, who started just seven league games.

To expect anything more, even with hopes this latest operation will solve his underlying injury issues, would only likely lead to more frustration.

Just three strikers match up to Sturridge’s record in the last four years
It’s also something on the club’s mind, clearly. Their interest in Benteke, for the figures involved, is not to bring a back-up striker into the squad. Whether he is priced at the £20m Liverpool would rather pay, or the £32.5m Aston Villa desire, the Reds are not in the market for a bench-warmer.

But if Liverpool were to get Benteke, what of Sturridge? The diamond formation, and the pair combined, is always an option – but Rodgers is likely to line up with just one up-front. That would mean leaving one of Sturridge or Benteke, or whichever striker arrives, on the bench.

That, of course, also disregards both Ings and Origi, a pair founded on potential who will still be expecting ample game time.
Sturridge may have had a torrid time with injuries, but he has scored 40 goals in 67 games for Liverpool.

He may be a player who, with his current record, cannot be included in the team’s long-term plans, but just three strikers (Aguero, Suarez, Dzeko) have scored from open play more frequently than him over the past four seasons.

The striker may not be fit until the autumn, but after his 40 goals for the club, no player has scored more than 23. That is the wantaway Raheem Sterling. After him, it is Jordan Henderson (20) and Martin Skrtel (17).

Sturridge has proven he can score goals in a red shirt, albeit questions persist whether he would be so prolific without the frenzied Suarez next to him. He returned to the side at the end of January and scored against West Ham, but was expected to be the lone man in the new 3-4-2-1 formation. He managed five goals, but didn’t quite fit into the new system.

Then, of course, he was injured again.

It’s a difficult situation, for both player and club. He is a striker who, in the right set-up, can score enough to make the Reds genuine top four contenders on his goals alone. But the club cannot wait forever; they cannot build the future on a physio’s table.

Hopefully, it won’t prove to be an issue for Liverpool, his latest absence proving the last big setback in a promising career. If that is the case, the club could find themselves with a dilemma up-front, although after last season, four strikers are better than none.

Sturridge just has to remind people just what he’s capable of. Everyone else will just hope he has the chance to get tongues wagging once more.