When Liverpool announced that Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno would not be returning for the upcoming season, I think most Liverpool fans went through the same emotions.
We will start with the easy one. Alberto Moreno. Pretty safe to say there was not a fan who was not happy to have seen the last of him. Definitely a skilled player with speed who will do well on the right team, he was over his head in the Premier League and his defensive weaknesses were exposed over and over again. Even though he started the year well and eventually lost his spot to Robertson due to an injury, I think everyone knew that it was a matter of time.
Daniel Sturridge is another story. His departure brought up different feelings ranging from sadness to disappointment. Sturridge has given this club several big moments, including some this year, but I think most of us still think of what it might have been without his bad luck with injuries. Even though he spent 6 years in the club, he had only 116 league appearances over this time. Seems like a lot of games but when you compare to a player like Salah who has had 74 league appearances in 2 seasons, you can see how many games Sturridge has missed.
Sturridge started the season well and full of hope this year. On the opening day of the season, he scored within a minute of coming on as a late substitute against West Ham and scored on his first start, heading the opening goal against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League. His goal against Chelsea was not only a highlight reel type of a goal but was of great importance for Liverpool in that time of the season. Just when you thought that there was more gas left in the tank and the menacing front three had gained a great sub to compliment them, Sturridge dropped in form, eventually losing his spot to Divock Origi.
I always loved watching Sturridge. A true finisher with a great touch on the ball, he made things look easy even when you knew it was an impossible shot. Watching him this season especially in the latter stages of the season was painful at times though. Not only he looked slower, he almost looked disinterested at times, perhaps not really relishing the role of coming off the bench while Divock was more than glad to get those minutes and trying to make most of them. We know how his season ended with big goals scored on the biggest stage of them all. Divock has a long future ahead of him though both at Liverpool and as a career whereas Sturridge knew this was his last season at Anfield and most likely in the Premier League.
Winning the trophy at the end of the season gives a player like Sturridge a happy note to leave on which he thoroughly deserves. Remembering him solely based on last season’s performance would not be fair to him and he now has two Champions League medals. Even though he did not feature in the finals of both those campaigns, he contributed to both and deserves the recognition.
Part of me wonders how a younger Sturridge would do with Klopp? Would he be able to keep up with the physical demands of Klopp’s system or would he be thought of as a player who does not fit the system and sold like Benteke. Sturridge was mostly in the place of Firminio and in all fairness to Daniel, no one in the squad was able to duplicate Bobby’s work in the middle. Perhaps a younger, faster Sturridge would play no the wings more and be able to exploit those spaces Bobby creates.
I think that is the worst part of watching Daniel walk away, the feeling of “what if” and what it could have been. Watching him walk away with the Champions League medal, eases that pain though knowing he more than deserves it as a player.