With trusted media sources, including Rory Smith and Tony Barret from the Times, saying that despite some hiccups due to personal terms and agent fees Liverpool are quite close to finalizing a deal for Daniel Sturridge, it may be time to ask…why?
The reported £12m fee would represent a large chunk of available funds and with the Merseyside club having been burnt quite recently with regards to overpriced British talent fans are quite rightly wondering about the reasons for the deal.
Of course it could also be argued that Daniel Sturridge is a smart purchase, being only 23 and already an England international. Perhaps Sturridge can help Liverpool now and be a player whose peak is ahead of him, thus able to be sold for a healthy profit if someone better comes along. To see which argument is correct, as always, one must delve into the numbers.
As the table below shows: Sturridge has only ever truly set the world alight once, in a 12 game spell at Bolton Wanderers where the forward caught everyone’s eye with eight goals. Aside from that his Premiership record looks quite paltry.
[table id=136 /]
Despite growing ever more accustomed to the Premiership and supposedly maturing, the forward’s goals per game has stayed relatively constant throughout his tenure at City and Chelsea, where theoretically with better players around him it should have been much higher than his time at Bolton. Of course it could be argued that Sturridge has played under so many different managers with different styles and in so many different roles that his development has been stunted. Brendan Rodgers could offer stability and improvement for a player that is still very young and obviously talented.
Although Sturridge has repeatedly declared his preference for playing as a central striker his expected results make him close to a perfect fit for a wide forward in Liverpool’s current system. It is also worth noting that Sturridge’s best season with a big club came under Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea, where he was deployed as a wide forward and scored 0.37 goals per game with 0.17 assists per game. Someone who can score 12-15 goals a season and lift some of the burden from Luis Suarez from a wide position is exactly what Liverpool need. The Reds have struggled to get runners into the box to outnumber opposition defenses this season and Sturridge’s natural instincts could only help.
Another worrying thing about Sturridge’s game to many people is his selfishness. To the naked eye it seems that oftentimes Sturridge is greedy for shots, happy to turn down the opportunity to set up teammates in much better positions in order to go for glory himself. It’s worth noting that his breakout loan spell in Bolton had him scoring eight times in 12 league games, but assisting none of his teammates. This makes the player seem like a volume scorer rather than an efficient one, something that Liverpool don’t need.
[table id=137 /]
Examining Sturridge’s two best spells, his time at Bolton and last season at Chelsea, it quickly becomes apparent why he was able to put up the best scoring numbers of his career. Taking lots of shots, and putting a decent amount of them on frame. How this relates to Liverpool could be seen on multiple levels. On one hand, Liverpool don’t need Sturridge taking shots that could be going to Luis Suarez or better positioned teammates, but on the other hand Liverpool are not bursting to the seams with clinical finishers and Sturridge may shoot better than Stewart Downing.
Sturridge’s shot numbers at Bolton could be explained by the fact that he was not on a good side, and that Bolton was often better served by Daniel Sturridge shooting over a less talented player. However, at Chelsea and to a lesser extent at Liverpool that excuse doesn’t hold any water.
Daniel Sturridge is by no means a bad player. In fact it may be worth saying that if the player was from Brazil instead of Birmingham his indulgences would be seen as the mark of a great player waiting to be properly harnessed rather than selfishness. And it is no secret that Liverpool need attacking depth at the wide forward positions, especially if Stewart Downing leaves in January. Sturridge will certainly have a role to play Liverpool if he does join, whether playing that role makes the Reds a more efficient side will have to be seen.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.