People are forgetful. They forget both the big and the small things in life. People almost seem to have forgotten that Luis Suarez has almost reached cannibal status with his antics. Since his almost glorious success with Barcelona helping winning the coveted ‘treble’ he has been in line for some much deserved praise. Liverpool have been in poor shape since the Uruguayan decided to take leave for the Catalan giants. The club hierarchy never thought it wise, funnily enough, to re-invest the ‘Suarez money’ into a world renown and world class striker to take the reins from the maverick number 7 who had recently departed for sunny Spain.
Recent conjecture would indicate Christian Benteke will sign from Aston Villa before the beginning of the season. This is fantastic news for Liverpool faithful as it means the club are looking to bring a striker and have a plan for the season ahead. Even if the hulking Belgian doesn’t sign the current transfer window is already a vast improvement on the last. My concern, however, comes in where Sturridge is concerned. He has been discarded from the common “Potential Liverpool XI” that can be found strewn all over Twitter. This is understandable but also a mistake.
Daniel Sturridge has, in his two years at Anfield, picked up several injuries that have brought him an unwanted tag of being injury prone. Form is temporary, we all understand this, but many struggle to understand what it means to be injury prone. It is something that Sturridge will struggle with for most of his life if not all of it. He is likely to pick up an injury, the likelihood far exceeds that of a normal player.
In an interview with TalkSPORT in 2014 he put it down to being hereditary. “I’ve been unfortunate this season to pick up injuries. Maybe it’s my body type and hereditary,”
“My uncle Dean had a lot of muscle problems when he played, Uncle Simon the same, and my dad. Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibes. I have fast-twitch muscles, I am more vulnerable to muscle injuries.” Sturridge has picked up several thigh and calf problems which have prevented him from furthering his impressive tally with the club. He has scored 40 goals in 66 games which is the mark of a world class striker. During the 2013/2014 season he scored in nine games consecutively. This uncompromising type of play was completely absent for Liverpool last season.
Despite still struggling for fitness last term the Englishman managed five league goals. Better than new recruits Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli who managed just three league goals combined. Liverpool need a clinical finisher on the frontline once more and Benteke could bring this to Liverpool and despite being ‘Premier League Proven’ there are guarantees or refunds once you have spent £32 million. The ‘Twitter experts’ that I so frequently mention in my articles have been all excited about potentially seeing a partnership of Sturridge and Benteke. And I must say I agree.
The duo won’t be as fluid as when Suarez graced Anfield with his presence but the two will be able to link up well and no doubt score numerous goals. The Belgian has scored 49 goals in 100 appearances for Aston Villa, almost 1 in 2. He is a proven goal-scorer and as I have said before, Liverpool really could do worse than that.
The signing of Benteke has its roots in the recurrence of Sturridge’s injury problems at the end of last season. While manager Brendan Rodgers ranks the Englishman highly, Liverpool’s need of a top class striker after Suarez was clear. “I need one that is going to be playing and at a top level every week,” said Rodgers in April.
Hypothetically, if Sturridge managed to remain injury-free then it would bode extremely well for Liverpool’s top four ambitions. Another lesson Liverpool learned from Suarez was about over-reliance on one striker – with a fit again Sturridge partnering new signing Beneteke, they would start the season in far better shape. Sturridge is able to play anywhere across a front three and with Roberto Firmino’s arrival on Merseyside this could be a possible shape that Brendan Rodgers could go for. Sturridge’s output could be further bolstered by the link-up that is likely to ensue between Philippe Coutinho and Firmino.
Liverpool fans would do well to not forget the striker that is already at the club who, fitness allowing will score goals galore to take Liverpool to the peaks where the historic club belongs.
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Is Bojan Krkic the perfect player for Gary Rowett to build Stoke City around?
The 27-year-old has been an outcast at the Bet365 Stadium.
As Gary Rowett continues to rebuild the Stoke City squad over the summer there will be plenty of speculation regarding who will be arriving and departing the Bet365 Stadium.
The Potters have already dipped into the transfer market by signing Nigerian midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Benik Afobe whilst Egyptian starlet Ramadan Sobhi was sold to Huddersfield Town last week.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who is currently representing Switzerland at the World Cup in Russia, has confirmed that he will be leaving the club whilst, in contrast, Joe Allen has signed a new long-term contract to remain.
There are still plenty of question marks over current players. The likes of Jack Butland and Badou Ndiaye are expected to attract interest from Premier League clubs whilst the expensive pairing of Saido Berahino and Giannelli Imbula may not fit into Rowett’s plans but will be short of offers.
But what about Bojan Krkic?
The diminutive Spaniard was once one of the most promising young forwards in Europe after he rose through Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia academy system and made his first team debut at the age of 17.
He made over 100 appearances for the Catalan’s prior to loan spells with Ajax, AC Milan and Roma before eventually moving to Stoke in the summer of 2014.
Bojan has certainly made an impact at the Bet365 Stadium, particularly during his first two-and-a-half years with the club, but he fell out of favour under Mark Hughes and has spent the last eighteen months on loan in Germany and Spain.
At his best, the 27-year-old was a magician who produced moments of sublime skill and was a central creative influence in the team.
He was technically magnificent and would often glide across the pitch, weaving between defenders and was a genuine threat whenever he received the ball in the final third.
Bojan was one of only a handful of Stoke players from the last decade that would bring supporters to the edge of their seats in anticipation and expectation when he was in possession.
For anyone who requires a reminder of what the forward can do, simply look up his solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur form 2014.
Much has been made of his injury in January 2015. The Spaniard suffered severe knee damage in an FA Cup tie at Rochdale that meant that he was out of action for the remainder of the season and the common narrative is that he was never the same upon his return.
However, this storyline is incorrect. In fact, Bojan was at his peak over the Christmas period in 2015 when he was the centre of Stoke’s attacking trident which also included Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic.
Such was the effectiveness of the trio that The Potters picked up the nickname of ‘Stoke-a-lona’ in reference to their attacking brand of football.
So where did it all go wrong for him?
He fell out of favour with Mark Hughes and, after being dropped from the starting line-up, was never able to regain his position as Stoke City’s creative hub.
The Spaniard subsequently has spent the past eighteen months on loan with Mainz and Las Palmas but has struggled to make any significant impact either in Germany or Spain.
In many respects, Bojan’s stock has never been lower. He has fallen off the radar somewhat in the past year and it appears that any hopes that he may have had of returning to a prominent European club are all but over.
However, this opens up a potential return to Stoke despite their relegation to The Championship.
Last season The Potters were desperately short of creativity and goals – something that Bojan can provide.
The Spaniard man be the perfect figure for Gary Rowett to build his new look team around.
Joe Allen and Oghenekaro Etebo will provide defensive security and energy in the centre of midfield whilst Benik Afobe will make be the focal point in the final third.
Bojan could be the perfect link player if deployed as a number ten and you would imagine that he would be more than capable of causing chaos amongst defences in The Championship.
There is, of course, the question of whether the 27-year-old would be prepared to play in the second tier of English football, although Allen’s decision to sign a new contract and remain at Stoke would suggest that Rowett is capable of being persuasive.
If Stoke are serious about challenging for promotion, then keeping Bojan and reigniting his career at the Bet365 Stadium would be a serious statement of intent.
Jack Wilshere is West Ham’s most realistic midfield target this summer
The 26-year-old seems the best option for Manuel Pellegrini at the moment.
Manuel Pellegrini has seemingly put signing a new midfielder high on his list of priorities this summer, having been linked with some stellar names, but is Jack Wilshere (Sky Sports) his most realistic target?
The Chilean has expressed his desire to get the Hammers playing attacking and progressive football again next term, and views a quality midfield addition as vital in achieving this.
Initially, the suggestion was made that Pellegrini would attempt to move for two-time Premier League winner Yaya Toure (the Telegraph), before stories broke claiming his interest in Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore (Sky Sports).
However, talks for both have stalled, with Toure’s preference to join a top-six side (Sport 24) and Pastore’s reported wage demands of £190,000-a-week (Sky Sports) to leave the French capital, with it now looking more likely Roma will land the 29-year-old’s signature.
Wilshere would employ the tactics Pellegrini is after and would instantly inject technical quality into the current functional midfield trio of Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang. His ability to carry the ball past defensive counterparts and to spot a final pass would add extra dimensions to the Hammers’ play, and at the age of 26 he could still have his best years ahead.
The ex-Bournemouth man has revealed he will not sign a contract extension at Arsenal with his contract set to expire imminently, meaning Pellegrini could land his signature on a free.
Tottenham should elevate reported interest in Leicester City protege Demari Gray
The 21-year-old could become a superstar if nurtured properly.
Tottenham Hotspur were reportedly interested in the possibility of signing Leicester City‘s attacking protege Demari Gray a few months back, according to reports from ESPN. And after a fruitless period in the search for attacking reinforcements, Mauricio Pochettino should revive his interest in sorting a deal.
Gray contributed four goals and three assists in 30 Premier League appearances last term, and is currently the captain of the England U21 squad. But he is likely to evaluate his future with the Foxes this summer, due to his lack of regular game-time. And Tottenham seems a great fit for the winger.
Spurs have pursued multiple attacking targets since the window commenced, without gathering any real traction on any of their targets, and it seems Pochettino – for once – is more concerned with making a marquee signing, than bringing in a player with the scope to develop and grow into a top player at White Hart Lane.
Talks for Anthony Martial, Christian Pulisic and Ivan Perisic have all stalled in recent times, and a move for the Leicester City man could be just the ticket for Spurs. He brings all the attributes they’re currently looking for; blistering pace, exceptional balance, end product, a cool head and notably the ability to hit an absolute cracker if awarded space.
If he reaches his peak under the guidance of Pochettino, which is more likely than not given his immense talent, the player could double in market-value and could become a key player for the Lilywhites for years to come.