Sturridge’s partnership with Luis Suarez, during the 2013-14 season, lit up the Premier League and boosted Liverpool into their greatest title chase since the turn of the Millennium. However, since that season, Sturridge has spent more games on the side-lines than the number of goals he’s scored for Liverpool (after joining in January 2013). His goal-scoring record is impressive; the striker has netted 37 times in 60 league appearances for the Reds and has notched up a further 7 goals in 13 other competitive matches. But just how valuable is a player who spends more time in the physio room than on the pitch?
The 26 year-old has spent his playing days at some of England’s top clubs and academies but didn’t really cement his name in the Premier League until he joined Liverpool. Sturridge’s professional career began at Manchester City in July 2006. He spent three years on their books and he represented City in the league on 21 occasions, scoring five goals. His first injury came in 2008 as he suffered Malleolar damage before missing a further four games due to a viral infection. It was early days, but Sturridge’s talent was noticeable and Chelsea wanted some of the England striker’s ability at Stamford Bridge.
In July 2009, Chelsea signed Sturridge for £3.5m and hoped to turn the youngster into a goal-scoring machine. The striker possessed obvious talent and skill and had an abundance of pace to cause damage to some of the league’s strongest defences. However, he struggled to make it into Chelsea’s first-team, competing against Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Salomon Kalou. In 63 league appearances, he managed to find the net on 13 occasions but he enjoyed the most success in FA Cup competition, scoring 7 times in just 9 games.
Chelsea knew they had talent and hoped a successful loan spell would push Sturridge towards a first team position on his return. In January 2011, he joined Bolton for a five month loan spell in the Premier League and it was during this time when his goal-scoring ability was really put on show. In just 12 league appearances, Sturridge scored on eight occasions and became a favourite at the Reebok stadium. Chelsea welcomed his return at the end of the 2010-11 season and the striker hoped to push into the Blues’ squad for the upcoming season.
Sturridge played 12 games for Chelsea on his return between August and early November 2012 before picking up his first major injury on 20th November. He scored important goals against Tottenham in the Premier League and Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, as well as appearing twice for England. His last game came against West Bromwich Albion on November 17th in a 2-1 defeat before Sturridge missed 11 games with a hamstring injury. Brendan Rodgers, who’d seen Sturridge’s talent up close on the training pitches at Stamford Bridge, gave Chelsea an offer they couldn’t refuse in January for an injury-prone striker who had failed to cement a regular place in their first team squad.
Liverpool signed Daniel Sturridge on 2nd January 2013 for £12m in the hope that he’d recover from his injury spell to perform for the Reds in the Premier League. He got off to a flying start too, scoring in each of his first three games, including his FA Cup debut for Liverpool against Mansfield, his league debut against Manchester United and his Anfield debut against Norwich – winning all three. He performed in another 13 games for Liverpool to see out the rest of the 2012-13 season and after scoring goals against former clubs, Manchester City and Chelsea, he quickly became a fan-favourite.
His career shone to light under Brendan Rodgers in the 2013-14 season which saw Sturridge and Suarez become one of the most exciting strike partnerships the Premier League has ever seen. The pair scored 80% of Liverpool’s overall goal tally for the entire season and together they took the side to the top of the Premier League. With three games to go, Liverpool were still favourites to win the title but defeats to Chelsea and Crystal Palace slashed their title hopes apart, nevertheless, Sturridge’s contribution had been displayed for Europe to see.
His first injury at Liverpool came during that wonderful season. He suffered a torn ankle ligament at the end of November, which meant he missed nine games. A sprained ankle sustained at the same time delayed his spell on the side-lines. It wasn’t until last season though that Liverpool fans saw just how injury-prone the striker was. A thigh strain picked up while on international duty caused Sturridge to miss the entire first full month of the new season and after returning for just five weeks, he then suffered the first of two hamstring injuries whilst at Liverpool (this saw him miss another 18 games). Fans willed his return, but just four more goals for the entire season meant Sturridge fell well short of his tally from the previous season.
Sturridge then picked up a hip injury which caused him to miss Liverpool’s entire pre-season campaign for the current season and since then he has not been able to string together more than five consecutive games in a red shirt. The striker has missed a total of 75 games for Liverpool since signing in 2013 and despite scoring 44 goals during his tenure; it’s hard to see where Sturridge’s career will see him go. His international career has been stop-start and the Liverpool man has yet to impress in a major tournament for England. Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool has kick-started a regeneration at Anfield and with Sturridge missing more games than he’s played for the Reds, the German boss could be forced to sell and invest elsewhere. Will Sturridge remain at Liverpool next summer? Have a bet on this using the latest bonus codes!
Almost every Premier League fan would love to see the return of Sturridge and his goal-scoring abilities but the number of injuries the striker has had suggests his career is all but over at Liverpool. He’s currently back in full training at Melwood but he’ll need a string of games and a few goals this season to re-announce his return to football.