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A career unfulfilled: What does the future hold for Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge?

Martyn Cooke

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Daniel Sturridge

Has there been a more frustrating, complex and yet hugely talented English striker over the last decade than Daniel Sturridge?

The 28-year-old has played for some of the most high profile clubs in the country and has demonstrated that he possesses the ability to become one of the most deadly finishers in the Premier League.

Yet, after a promising start to his career and a handful of random purple patches of goal scoring form, injuries and inconsistency appear to be slowly eroding what should be the peak years of his career.

It was only three years ago that Sturridge was being talked about as being one of the leading marksmen in European football as he scored 25 goals in 33 appearances during the 2013/14 campaign.

Brendan Rodgers partnered him with Luiz Suarez and the duo played a major part in Liverpool’s honourable, but ultimately failed, title challenge with their movement, pace, trickery and creativity causing chaos among Premier League defences.

What a difference three years can make.

Since his debut season at Anfield, Sturridge has struggled to make any kind of significant impact despite supposedly being in his prime.

In truth, he is considered as little more than a squad player by Jurgen Klopp and there are no signs that the striker is anywhere near to being considered as a key part of the German’s long-term plans.

Ultimately, injuries have played a role in his decline. Indeed it often seems that the 28-year-old spends more time in the treatment room than on the pitch, and when he has been handed playing opportunities, his performances have been inconsistent and unspectacular.

Klopp handed Sturridge a rare start at the weekend as Liverpool travelled to the north-east to face Newcastle United, opting to drop Roberto Firmino to the bench after the Brazilian produced a tired-looking display in mid-week.

Sturridge was positioned as the focal point of the Liverpool attack, where he prefers to play, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane deployed on the flanks and Philippe Countinho as a number ten. In short, the team appeared to be perfectly set up for the striker to plunder goals with an abundance of creativity surrounding him.

However, Sturridge failed to have any real impact on the contest and looked a shadow of the player that terrorised defences three years ago. His movement was sluggish, his enthusiasm was laboured and he lacked sharpness around the eighteen yard box.

During the second half, the 28-year-old was presented with a simple chance ten yards from goal, after Ciaran Clark had horribly sliced his clearance, but his resulting shot was timidly poked straight at the goalkeeper.

Moments later he was substituted.

The problem for Sturridge is that a career that had so much promise is now in danger of culminating in him being little more than an afterthought and, for a player blessed with so much ability, there is a genuine feeling that he may never now fulfill the potential that he undoubtedly has.

At the age of 28 there really can be no more excuses or apologies – he simply has to find a way to kick start his stuttering career.

That could well mean a move away from Anfield. It is becoming increasingly clear that Sturridge is not a key component of Klopp’s revolution and the body language of the player himself at the weekend suggested that he is far from happy with his current situation at Liverpool.

However, it seems unlikely that any of the so-called ‘big’ clubs would have any interest in signing the 28-year-old based on current form and it is questionable as to whether lower Premier League sides would have the financial clout or ambition to attract a player of Sturridge’s calibre.

This leaves him somewhat in limbo.

Whatever the coming months and years may hold for Daniel Sturridge, one thing is certain – no one wants to look back on a career unfulfilled.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Everton

Liverpool fans will love who are favourites to sign Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli
Photo: Getty Images.

Mario Balotelli is not a man who conjures up fond memories for Liverpool fans, but that could all be about to change if the betting is accurate in forecasting where he could move if he leaves OGC Nice this summer with one Premier League side leading the race to bring him back to England.

Whilst Serie A sides are the frontrunners in the betting to sign Mario Balotelli, there are also several English clubs in the mix, based on odds offered by Sky Bet. Favourites are the side that Liverpool fans would both find hilarious and dread in equal measure: Everton.

Odds on the controversial Italian moving to Goodison Park this summer are as low as 8/1, whilst West Ham are also in the running at 12/1.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The centre forward picked up more yellow cards, seven, than goals, four, during his time on Merseyside but has scored 39 goals in 61 games for his new club in France and insists he’s a new, mature man.

Italy still seems his most likely destination with Napoli and Juventus leading the odds, but a move to Everton would give Balotelli the chance to either redeem himself with Liverpool fans by failing as much as he did at Anfield, or rebuild his reputation in the country where he made his name with Manchester City.

The Toffees are desperate to add firepower up-front, but having been so disappointed by their business last summer it is hard to see how taking a gamble on a player as volatile as Balotelli would be a wise move.

That said, they know that the quality is clearly there within the player and may have the same hope as Brendan Rodgers did when he signed Balotelli for Liverpool, that they can bring him in cheap, get the best out of him and sell him on for a profit.

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English Premier League

Rhian Brewster deserves shot at Liverpool first-team next season

The Liverpool teenager deserves a shot ahead of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.

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Liverpool fans were rightly excited about England under-17s World Cup win in India last summer. Firstly, it was great to see the English national team doing well at some level. Secondly, one of their own players, Rhian Brewster, was on fire.

The teenage striker won the Golden Boot prize at the competition after scoring eight goals for his nation, including hat-tricks against both the USA and Brazil.

His performances rightly had Liverpool fans excited for the season ahead, but it came too soon for the youngster. Brewster then suffered an ankle injury in January that needed surgery.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

However, despite his setback, it was reported last month by The Telegraph that Brewster will be promoted to the Liverpool first-team next season after his recovery period is over.

Rightly so. Liverpool should be ready to give the teenager his chance in the first-team at Anfield, as he has all the talent available to him to become a club goalscoring sensation.

In fact, if Liverpool want to be serious about him, they should ensure there are no blockages in his pathway.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, currently on loan at West Brom, and Divock Origi, also on loan but at German side Wolfsburg, should no longer be considered ahead of Brewster in the pecking order.

Getting rid of the injury-prone Sturridge and Origi, who has struggled in the Bundesliga, will leave Brewster firmly in the mix for the striking position at Liverpool.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Roberto Firmino obviously remains the first choice. But Liverpool also have England’s under-20 goalscoring sensation from the summer in Dominic Solanke. With the hard-working Danny Ings also present, Brewster fits in nicely to the Liverpool striking fold.

Some might say he is too young. But people said that about Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. The fact is, nobody will know until he is thrown into that position.

Liverpool fans are some of the more supportive and understanding in the country when it comes to young talent, and would have all the patience in the world for the young striker.

It is time to cut the deadwood and make room for the future to blossom.

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Bolton Wanderers

Trent Alexander-Arnold World Cup push is deja-vu for Jon Flanagan and Liverpool

The Liverpool defender has had his problems on and off the pitch but is performing well at Bolton Wanderers.

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Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has emerged as a late challenger for the England World Cup squad this summer. The teenage defender has been in incredible form for Liverpool in 2018.

His performances against Manchester City in both legs of the recent Champions League win earned mass praise and plenty of Liverpool fans are of the belief that Alexander-Arnold should be in the England squad.

It seems a bit like deja-vu from four years ago. Back then, England were again preparing for a World Cup – this time in Brazil. Once again, Liverpool were in fine form toward the end of that season and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City.

One of the main reasons for their excellent season was the form of young full-back Jon Flanagan. The then 21-year-old defender came in and solved Brendan Rodgers’ left-back problem with aplomb.

He featured in 25 games that season and pushed his way, much like Alexander-Arnold, into England contention.

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

In the summer, he was named on the England standby list for the World cup and made his debut in a warm-up game against Ecuador. This should have been the start of something brilliant for the young man.

But the four years since have been a disappointment for the Liverpool man.

That summer a build-up of fluid on his knee led to investigations which in turn led to corrective surgery. Flanagan went on to spend what should have been his crowning years on the treatment table. After spending 18 months on the sidelines he eventually returned, but to a new Liverpool.

Under Jurgen Klopp, first-team football was hard to find. He headed to Burnley on loan last season but found himself not able to break into the first-team at Turf Moor either.

Since that near World Cup miss, football has continuously kicked Flanagan while he has been down and he has also had well-documented problems off the pitch as well.

But there is now a glimmer of hope. In January the defender headed to Bolton Wanderers on loan, to try and help the Trotters fight off relegation to League One and put his recent problems behind him.

Now established as a first-team regular he is getting back to fine form.

Whilst it may come too late to salvage his Liverpool career, there does appear to be a future for Flanagan in the game.

A lot of bad luck has hit the defender so far, whilst his off-field issues have also not helped matters. But, hopefully, he can turn things around and build a career Liverpool fans thought he might back in 2014.

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