Scott Groom analyses what the future holds for Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi as the two strikers have returned to Melwood for pre-season training.
The summer transfer window is always a period of great change at any football club, but this pre-season feels like another one of large change at Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
High profile arrivals of midfield duo Naby Keita and Fabinho may set the scene for the window, not just in terms of incomings, but outgoings too.
As the squad continues to strengthen, the peripheral players in Liverpool’s squad will once more be evaluating their position and, like Danny Ings, may take the difficult decision to leave the Club.
Two more strikers that may be thinking in a similar vein to Ings are Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge.
The pair have both enjoyed mixed fortunes during their Liverpool careers: Sturridge hit dizzying heights when partnered with Luis Suarez in a Brendan Rogers side that came within an inch of clinching the Premier League title before being hampered by relentless injuries and poor form following his recovery, while Origi has at times looked like a quality young striker in the making, as well as looking like a below-par one in equal measure – especially during his loan spell at Wolfsburg.
It is perhaps the most obvious statement to make when I say that both of the attackers face a crucial summer – with big decisions to be made by both them and Klopp regarding their future.
Let’s start with perhaps the simpler situation of the two, and focus on Daniel Sturridge. When he joined in the January transfer window back in 2013 for a mere £12m, he looked like a steal. And in truth, he has been.
Sturridge’s talent and eye for goal is undeniable, and he has scored 63 goals in 133 appearances in a Red shirt, which is almost a goal every other game. Not bad. But when you consider he has only made 133 appearances in six years, red flags start popping up.
Sturridge has been hampered by injury after injury, and quite frankly has not been the same player since he began to struggle significantly with injuries. He looks shorter of pace, power and confidence, and at 28-years-old, he can’t expect to have as much of a long career left ahead of him as someone like Solanke, Brewster or especially Origi.
Liverpool may also be keen to get rid of someone who is as prone to being on the sidelines as Sturridge considering he is one of the club’s highest earners. Could his wage bill be freed up for another new signing?
But the risk in getting rid of Sturridge is that he goes elsewhere and rediscovers his finest form and Liverpool end up in a position where they could have utilised his talent. The same cannot be said about Origi.
At times, Divock Origi has looked like he could become the real deal. Fast, strong, energetic, skillful: all fantastic attributes that the young Belgian possess. But turning all of these into solid, consistent performances has been a struggle.
He looked at his best when he scored nine goals in as many games in Klopp’s first full season in charge, but he soon went off the boil. When he’s good, he’s a handful. When he’s not, he’s a nightmare.
A loan spell in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg was seen as a potentially lucrative move to really ignite his career, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Origi has struggled for form and goals, but it wouldn’t be fair to exclude the fact that Wolfsburg have made numerous changes to their managerial staff this season, and the man that signed Origi was barely there to fit him into his plans during the loan spell.
Now he’s back with the squad at Melwood, he has a chance to make an impression, but getting into the team ahead of either Firmino, Salah or Mané seems impossible for him, and will he be happy to play second fiddle?
The seemingly inevitable departure of Danny Ings may well help either one of Sturridge or Origi for more security in regard to their Liverpool careers, but Rhian Brewster signing a professional contract may put a dampener on that.
We have seen that Klopp is more than happy to field youngsters like Dominic Solanke, so will Brewster usurp them both in the pecking order?
In all honesty, Origi has more of a chance to stay at Liverpool than Sturridge, who I think will be moved on while the Reds can still command a decent fee for him. Origi is younger and has more potential to improve, and I think Klopp will see this and keep him on the books for another season.
What his future holds beyond that is anyone’s guess.