As any Liverpool supporter will remember, the failure to capture Clint Dempsey before the summer transfer window slammed shut was a tough one to take. Coupled with the lack of results through the first five games, Liverpool could only muster two points out of the possible 15. Because of this the Reds were now sitting in the relegation zone and were stretched thin on attacking options, and many fans saw this as one of the biggest mistakes management could have made. Yet Brendan Rodgers and company weathered the storm to the winter transfer window and picked up Daniel Sturridge for a reported £12 million from Chelsea. So the question arises: for an extra £6 million, is Sturridge worth it?
Firstly, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) has sought transfer targets that are young, have enormous upside, and the potential for profit after resale. Clint Dempsey just didn’t fit this mold for them. Although Dempsey is in the prime of his career, he will be turning 30 this March, so the potential to make a profit from him in a few years time looks slim. These factors led to a modest £3 million offer by Liverpool. Liverpool did however offer cash-plus-player deals that involved both Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing. These deals still did not impress Fulham, who were reportedly holding out for £8 million for the American. The same cannot be said about the England international Daniel Sturridge; he’s young, has lots of upside, and the prospect of making a profit from him, making him the ideal target for FSG.
To get an accurate comparison of the two, let’s look at the stats from the first five EPL matches with their new clubs.
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As you can see from the graphic above, Daniel Sturridge is much more involved in the attack than Dempsey. The attack has been driven through him whereas Dempsey has been on the fringes of the attack on the wing or in the hole to the strikers; Sturridge has the same number of assists as Clint Dempsey. I will acknowledge that assists are a two-way statistic. So let’s look at chances created.
The immediate impact of Daniel Sturridge on Liverpool’s attack is clear by the effect when he is not in the side. Being sidelined by an upper leg injury and missing two matches for Liverpool, the competency in front of net disappeared along with Daniel Sturridge. Even after firing over 30 shots, with nine on target, Liverpool could not finish in Sturridge’s absence. Not only is Daniel Sturridge a goal-scorer, his ability to stretch the defense with his pace and movement allows space for others to get in behind the back line, making this a trait that Sturridge has an edge over Dempsey in.
Clint Dempsey has played a part in Tottenham’s consistent stay in the top 5 of the table this year, but it must be noted, Daniel Sturridge’s impact compared to Clint Dempsey’s was immediate and not requiring time to adapt. This is a necessity that Liverpool demanded to add to their their slight striking force. Sturridge has not only lifted the scoring burden from Luis Suarez, but has allowed his teammates to find their scoring boots.
Just as Clint Dempsey evolved and matured into his role for his club, Liverpool fans hope that Daniel Sturridge continues to exhibit the brilliance he already shown for the club. Although it was a bumpy period between transfer windows, Liverpool made it through the storm and are now looking to improve on their first-half-of-the-season performance. If Daniel Sturridge can continue his run of form and his ability to improve his teammates, Liverpool can only go up from here. From 5 games, £12 million seems like a bargain, and Liverpool has years to reap from their investment.
We’ll leave you with their overall stats from this season (includes stats for almost two Daniel Sturridge appearances for Chelsea).
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