In Depth

Liverpool face a Catch-22 over divisive Daniel Sturridge

Should Jurgen Klopp get what he can for the player now or give him yet another chance to prove his worth to the club?

Reports at the weekend suggested that not only was Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp running out of patience with sidelined striker Daniel Sturridge, who has managed 106 minutes of football since the German joined Anfield in the autumn, but he was prepared to offload the England man.

"Klopp has become increasingly frustrated with Sturridge's injury record and Liverpool are ready to listen to offers of around £25m," claims the Daily Mirror, which points out that the striker has scored 44 goals in 72 matches for Liverpool but has managed just three Premier League starts this term. Last year, he saw seven starts and a grand total of 12 League appearances.

This season has been particularly galling for the club as Sturridge had been earmarked as the man to fill the vacuum left by the departure of captain Steven Gerrard.

"The striker has the touch, talent and nose for goal to transform games, win Golden Boots and crash Ballon d'Or shortlists," says Tony Evans of ESPN. "Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the club's owners, envisioned a new era built on Sturridge's productivity on the pitch and marketability off it. They have been supportive and understanding over the forward's injury problems. Their patience has not been rewarded."

Even before the arrival of Klopp, Sturridge's injury woes were creating problems. Evans suggests that Raheem Sterling's dissatisfaction at Anfield last season stemmed partly from the fact he was playing every week for relatively little money while Sturridge, the club's top earner, spent most of the year on the sidelines.

Things have not improved under Klopp, who is not the first manager to hint at underlying problems with the striker. "The one proven weapon bequeathed to Klopp appears constantly decommissioned," says Evans.

"In the end, it may come down to whether Sturridge can - or wants to - play through pain. Klopp's arrival has brought this to a head. Sturridge is approaching a crossroads. The next five months could be the most crucial of his career."

However, opinions remain divided about what to do with the forward.

A year ago in early 2015, CaughtOffside called for him to be sold. "Surely the best case scenario is that they bite the bullet now, and ensure that one of their highest paid players doesn't continue to waste away on the Anfield sidelines," said the website, with some foresight, in March.

Now could be time to offload him, says Matt Jones of Bleacher Report. "It's been proved time after time he's not a player the Reds can rely on to become the team's focal point. Klopp, a manager who is still seeking to stamp his mark on this Liverpool team, will be acutely aware of that. As the German considers which personnel to shift out, Sturridge... will surely be up there.

"What could be an issue for Liverpool is finding a buyer," he warns. The Reds want £25m for the player but, considering his track record, "would do well to find another team willing to pay half of that valuation".

The situation is complicated and leaves Liverpool in a Catch-22 situation. Aside from the selling problem, Anfield has a buying problem, too. It is all very well offloading Sturridge, but they will not be able to attract an adequate replacement until they are challenging for trophies - something they are unlikely to do while he remains in the side.

"There is almost no chance of the club being able to find another goal-scorer and all-round key player of the elite level he provides," noted This is Anfield blogger Ben Twelves last month.

"Only when the Reds have reached a level in which genuine top bracket talent of Sturridge's class are realistically attainable, can the serious discussions of selling and replacing commence."

His conclusion: the club should not countenance selling their striker, whatever his problems.

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