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Why this is a make-or-break season for Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge is in a difficult situation at Liverpool and this season looks to be make or break for him. He is easily the club’s best striker, but there are issues about his suitability for Jurgen Klopp’s system that requires high work rate in terms of pressing. The German likes his attackers to press high and force the opposition defence into mistakes, something that isn’t a major part of Sturridge’s game. It is a similar situation to Joe Hart at Manchester City. However, the main difference being is that there will be more opportunities for the Englishman as he is an outfield player and due to this, he hasn’t looked for an exit.

He has played just 67 minutes during the opening three matches, highlighting his reduced role in the squad. During the club’s title challenge in 2013/14, Sturridge was a key player and scored 21 league goals. His partnership with Luis Suarez was incredible and it was the major reason for the success that Liverpool had that season.

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After Suarez left the club, it was Sturridge that was expected to step up and become the best player at the club. Some will argue that he is, but injuries and struggles with pressing have left him on the bench. He started the match against Burnley on the wing and struggled to influence the match before being substituted in the second half. Sturridge frustrated Jurgen Klopp with his selfishness and there does appear to be an underlying resentment between the pair.

Although it looks like he won’t get many chances this season, it could be that Klopp is slowly easing him into the new season to avoid any reoccurrences of past injuries. Sturridge has only played 28 league matches since the beginning of the 2014/15 season, which is a worry for Liverpool. His talent is obvious, but if he can’t stay fit, he isn’t useful to Liverpool at all. Klopp may have that in the back of his mind and treating him cautiously as a result.

At the age of 27, Liverpool need to make a decision on the striker’s future over the next 12 months. They need to give him opportunities in the first team, as he is the most clinical striker in the squad and provides goal-scoring instinct that the other forwards at the club don’t have. Since August 2014, the Englishman has an impressive strike rate of a goal every 149.75 minutes. This shows the threat he carries even when coming in and out of the side. If Liverpool give him a sustained run in the first team and he stays injury free, they will be a bigger threat in the final third.

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Another reason why they must allow Daniel Sturridge lots of game time is due to his depreciating value. His value has plummeted since his incredible 2013/14 season and teams will be reluctant to pay £25 million plus for a player with his injury record. If his game time is going to be restricted, his value will fall even more and Liverpool could potentially lose a proven goal-scorer for a small fee. In theory, Sturridge should now be in the peak of his career and it will be intriguing to see how his club situation develops over the next year, as he needs regular first team football.

Sturridge has had his career tarnished with injuries and if he had stayed fit, he could be at one of the world’s top clubs now. There are few strikers in Europe with the goal-scoring ability that Sturridge possesses and Klopp needs to find him a place in the first team. During the opening three matches, Liverpool haven’t created many clear cut opportunities inside the penalty box, with the majority of their shots coming from range. They have lacked the clever movement that a natural number nine would provide to find space in the final third.

Purely on talent, Sturridge should be in the first team, but there are clearly issues behind the scenes. If Klopp continues to side-line the England international, it could be one of the biggest errors of his managerial career as Sturridge won’t stick around without a starting place. It is a make-or-break season for him at Liverpool and it is impossible to predict where he will be this time next year.

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