Daniel Sturridge: What "could have been" if not for the injuries
"Modern-day Liverpool great" is an apt term to coin for Daniel Sturridge. The 29-year old has been scintillating to watch for Liverpool during his tenure but the time has come for him to wave goodbye to Anfield. Fans will always remember him fondly and will accept him as a great. He was literally unplayable when in form and was formidable in the 2013/14 season along with Luis Suarez. If not for the injuries, he could have gone on and scored 300+ goals in his Anfield career. Fitness finally caught up with him and now he has bid farewell to Anfield. At 29, he is good for the Premier League, but for Liverpool? not anymore.
Let's have a look at his illustrious Liverpool career.
The transfer had created some split opinions among the critics and fans. Even the great Sir Alex Ferguson described Sturridge transfer as a gamble. Brendan Rodgers was hoping to prove all of them wrong and he did so in convincing fashion.
Sturridge was an instant hit at Merseyside. He was the finisher Liverpool needed to partner Suarez with. Sturridge scored in his first three appearances for Liverpool: a feat nobody achieved since Ray Kennedy in 1974. In his first half season, he scored 11 goals in 16 appearances. What an impact he had!
The rise to the top
The 2013/14 is a season which is written in the golden pages of history, both for Liverpool and Sturridge. It was a season which gave birth to a formidable partnership that Liverpool fans will never forget: 'SAS' was one of the deadliest strike partnerships in the Premier League at the time.
Daniel Sturridge was clinical and along with Luis Suarez terrorized defences in the league. He scored 21 goals in 29 appearances and made seven assists. He had a goal per game ratio of 0.72 and shooting accuracy of 42%. Adding 3 goals from domestic cups, Sturridge made his goal tally to a very impressive 35 in 49 appearances for Liverpool.
It is these type of players that can win any team the league, and Liverpool came close to winning the Premier League. If not for the "Gerrard-slip", history could have been a little different.
The performances of Daniel Sturridge didn't go unnoticed. Roy Hodgson decided to take him as part of the England squad to play in the 2014 World Cup.
If not for the Injuries?
After such an impressive start to life at Anfield, he was expected to reach even greater heights. Then injuries started to become the villain in Sturridge's career. With Suarez having left for Barcelona, everyone expected Sturridge to lead the front line.
The 2014/15 season was disrupted by injuries as Sturridge made 12 appearances in the Premier league contributing just four goals. The thigh injuries took a heavy toll on him and had to undergo surgery to overcome that.
The Jurgen Klopp era succeeded that of Brendan Rodgers, while Sturridge was still fighting to keep himself fit. With his injury record, he was not the type of player you can build a team around. So, Klopp decided to move on from Sturridge and started looking for alternatives.
Even though chances were limited under Klopp, Sturridge scored some crucial goals under him, inlcuding a few screamers. The goal in the Europa League final (2015), the opener in the Champions League tie against PSG (2018) and the last minute equalizer against Chelsea (2018) come to mind.
Overall Sturridge made 160 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions and scored 67 goals in the process. After his 2013/14 season heroics, fans expected Sturridge walk into the record books as the striker that ruled the Premier League.
If it wasn't for the injuries Sturridge had, he was destined for greatness. A clinical striker who was unplayable on his day. Sadly, though, it's more like a case of "what could have been?" when looking back at the two-time Champions League winner's career.
Even so, Liverpool fans love him for what he has done for the club. They will remember the Englishman as one of their modern day greats. He surely deserves it.