By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
Oh Danny boy, what could have been.
When someone mentions Daniel Sturridge’s early career at Liverpool, we think of a goal machine, a deadly sharpshooter, a ruthless goal-poacher, and his deadly combination with Luis Suárez in the 2013/14 season.
Sadly, this was not to continue, and the last three years or so have been a continuous cycle of injuries, a lack of fitness and still not doing anywhere near enough when he has actually been on the pitch.
The injuries alone were never quite enough for me to demand he be sold – obviously he could do little to prevent his problems on this front and the romantic in me always wanted to keep him around in case he got over them and got back to his free-scoring ways.
Alas, here we are, and this is a scenario that has never even come close to materialising – in fact, he has only tainted mine and many others’ view of him with what seems to be a poor attitude and a lack of willingness to work for the team.
This was demonstrated most vividly as he came off the bench to replace Roberto Firmino in the draw against Manchester United – in previous appearances from the bench he has only played cameo roles, but here he had around an hour after the Brazilian hobbled off with an ankle injury.
In all that time he took only 24 touches and had just one solitary shot on goal, but it’s his non-existent work rate that has finally persuaded me to campaign for his release.
The Englishman’s contract at Anfield expires in the summer, and its unclear as to whether or not the club has already informed him of his fate when that day arrives.
Judging by his on-pitch performances, though, it looks like the 29-year-old has already been told that his services will no longer be required – surely a man who is fighting for his Liverpool career and a new contract would bust a lung at every opportunity to show Jurgen Klopp that he is worth keeping around.
Instead, all we have seen is a man – a shell of his former, glorious self – who appears to outright refuse to venture outside of a 10-yard radius of the edge of the penalty area, barely breaks into anything more than a leisurely jog to chase to ball and offers nothing for the Reds going forward.
With Sturridge and Divock Origi – a Merseyside Derby hero but another who is not good enough for Liverpool’s level – as backup to Firmino, fans have every right to be concerned about their side’s options at the sharp end of the pitch.
The Anfield club have some promising young talents in the academy and youth teams, from Rhian Brewster to the dream team of Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan, but it’s unlikely and unwise for a club in our position to take a gamble on such unproven talents in the position in which we currently find ourselves.
Hopefully, in the summer, Sturridge leaves as a free agent, and replacements are sought for both he and Origi – I’m sure most would be very receptive to a move for RB Leipzig man Timo Werner.
Until then, we just have to hope that the pair that we have in backup to Firmino can do enough for Liverpool to achieve their goals this season.
Both have, to be fair, contributed, as Sturridge’s wonderstrike at Stamford Bridge and Origi’s dramatic winner against Everton both earned vital points that could make the difference between a successful Premier League title challenge and a great disappointment.
Another moment of Sturridge brilliance would be a fitting legacy for the Englishman as he departs – one last hurrah from a man who has provided some great memories before moving on to pastures new.