Joseph Kavaloski explains how Daniel Sturridge’s future with Liverpool could hinge on the Reds securing Champions League football.
One of the biggest transfer questions of the summer will be the saga of Daniel Sturridge. The 27-year-old has the reputation of being one of the Premier League’s best strikers, but his health and sometimes questionable attitude have left Liverpool wanting more of the player he once was.
At the beginning of Jürgen Klopp’s tenure, there was hope that a specialised training program and a tougher approach would rid or at least limit Sturridge’s time on the sidelines. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as the Englishman has only made 26 appearances this season (most of which have been from the bench).
To make matters worse, his performances have been far from his best with only seven goals and three assists. Factoring in his 13 goals and two assists last season, a tally of 20 goals and five assists in 51 appearances is not poor. However, considering his scoring rates from the beginning of his Anfield career, it is hard not to notice the significant regression.
Now in the prime of his career and on a hefty £150,000 per week wage, questions deserve to be asked of Sturridge based purely on his diminishing end product. Plus, when factoring in his poor fit in Klopp’s high-intensity style, there is even more reason to question the former Blues striker’s future on Merseyside.
Sturridge has proven his quality for Liverpool and remains a talented player who can be a genuine game changer (last week at West Ham is the perfect example). The problem is that he is perhaps the most frustrating player in the Premier League due to his inconsistencies.
The Reds are certainly in no rush to sell a potential match winner like Sturridge for financial reasons, but keeping a player like Sturridge can also be detrimental. Liverpool could most likely gain £30 million from his sale while also opening up playing time for another incoming transfer or younger player.
According to reports, the Reds are expected to have upwards of £100 million in spending money this summer, but it is unclear how much that number is reliant on the attainment of Champions League football. Gaining entry into Europe’s elite competition would obviously make player recruitment much easier for Klopp, and the positive impact on Liverpool’s finances cannot be ignored either.
As a result, Sturridge may be perceived almost as a sort of “luxury player” to the Reds. His presence probably makes Liverpool better as a team, but his hefty wages and market value limit how much of a net positive he really is to the club.
If the Reds gain entry into the Champions League, the forgone benefits of not selling Sturridge become far less detrimental. There is additional revenue coming from the media benefits of the competition that make Sturridge’s financial burden much easier to handle.
Plus, recruiting new players will be less dependent on possible playing time that the Englishman may cut into since a Champions League club under a dynamic manager can almost sell itself.
If Daniel Sturridge wants to remain a Liverpool player past this summer, ensuring his club reaches the Champions League may be his best option. It is unlikely he will ever become the player many believed he could be after the 2013-14 season, but he can still provide value.
Hopefully, he proves his worth once again with a strong showing against Middlesbrough to regain Liverpool’s status as a Champions League club and increase the odds of himself staying a Liverpool player in 2017-18.