It’s less than two weeks until the January transfer window and as Liverpool seek to improve their attacking options as soon as possible, one name continually linked with a move to Anfield is Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge. We take a look at the former Man City academy player and see how he could fit in at Liverpool.
[sws_grey_box box_size=”600″]Full name: Daniel Andre Sturridge
Date of birth: 1 September 1989 (age 23)
Place of birth: Birmingham, England
Playing position: Striker / Winger[/sws_grey_box]
Sturridge is a talented left-footed attacker who is able to operate in all three forward positions in 4-3-3 formation but, according to player himself, his preference is to play as central forward.
His physical attributes – strength, balance and very good pace – coupled with excellent technique and natural flair made him stand out in Manchester City’s youth ranks and earned him playing time with the first team in his teens but he moved to Chelsea after his contract expired.
However, after impressing on loan at Bolton under the guidance of Owen Coyle and later back at Chelsea under the guidance of Andre Villas-Boas, alternating between right wide and centre forward roles (though spending arguably more time in the former), Sturridge has fallen out of favour with now former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and refused to sign a new contract at Chelsea, rendering himself available for transfer as early as January.
His physical and technical qualities would undoubtedly suit and improve this Liverpool side. He can dribble past players, he can use his body well to fend off challenges or to skip past opponents, his movement in the final third is very good, with his pace enabling him to burst in behind defenders, and he is able score all kinds of goals, ranging from tap-ins via wonderful curlers to long-range screamers. His record at Chelsea, including the loan at Bolton, stands at 32 goals in 105 appearances, which isn’t bad for a player who is predominantly a wide forward, and a young one at that.
There is plenty of room for improvement in Sturridge’s game, however. First areas he needs to improve on are the way he works with his teammates and his decision-making in the final third. After watching him for a prolongued period, it’s easy to notice that he’s a fairly egoistic and selfish player and that he forces himself sometimes a bit too much into doing the impossible with the ball even when there is a better option available. He isn’t tactically developed and isn’t very prone to taking his part in tracking back and defending his goal, which surely won’t sit well with a manager like Brendan Rodgers who, while being a proponent of attacking football that is pleasing on the eye, values hard work in training and on the pitch more than anything else. Perhaps this was the actual reason why Di Matteo didn’t opt to use him more often in his time at Chelsea.
At £12m, which is the rumoured price Chelsea are asking for Sturridge, he provides something of a gamble as he will be expected to take a major part in sorting out Liverpool’s troubles in front of goal, not to mention the fact that English young talents are usually more expensive than their foreign counterparts and Liverpool are working on a limited budget.
Liverpool’s current squad seems geared towards having an interchangable trio of attackers who all provide genuine scoring threat – the only detail that is lacking are two more forwards who would work well with the likes of Suarez and Gerrard and share the burden of scoring goals. However, compared to transfer fees Liverpool have previously paid for some of domestic talents, Sturridge could indeed prove to be value for money signing if he is given a fair chance and responds well to his new manager’s methods.
While few doubt his talent, his attitude can be off-putting and it will take a good coach and an even better motivator to coax the best out of him and guide him down the path that his favourite player, a certain Thierry Henry, trod long ago – from being a decent winger to becoming a world class striker, should his new manager decide to use him centrally more often than his former employers did.
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We’ll have more scout reports over the next few weeks as the January window nears.