My friends will tell you I’m quite a sentimentalist. My wife knows I’m a crier at the movies. That sentimentality came out most recently when she gifted me a board game I know she hates. So it is no surprise that I’m again walking down memory lane during the holiday season with my thoughts turning to old friends. So with my heart on my sleeve, here is the second installment of “Where Are They Now?”
Lucas Leiva. Recently a student of mine wore a Lazio sweatshirt to class. I knew there was a story there, but I also thought of our former midfielder. Lucas was with us for a decade, playing for Rafa, King Kenny, Rodgers, and Klopp. Among the players Rodgers wanted rid of, he was a central cog as Jurgen took us on that delightful and too-often-forgotten run to a Europa League final. He moved to Lazio a year later and stayed for five. Leiva was the club’s Player of the Year his first season there. He added a Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italia crowns during his stay. This past summer he moved home to Brazil, rejoining Gremio where he began his professional career in 2005.
Daniel Sturridge. As talented as they come, his partnership with Luis Suarez nearly carried us all the way to the league title in 2013-2014. But if staying healthy is a skill, our #15 always lacked it. He was never truly an elite striker under Klopp. However, a proper defense in 2015-2016 would make that campaign remembered as a Europa League triumph. Nevertheless, it has been a wild ride for him since then. Sturridge had his West Brom loan cut short by injury after three games. A return to Merseyside for a season saw him collect a UCL winner’s medal in Madrid. After his 2019 release, a suspension from global football came down for having his brother bet on where he’d be transferred to! After that debacle, a three-year deal at Turkish giant Trabzonspor lasted seven months before the ban for the aforementioned betting infractions came to pass. A spell in Australia in 2021-2022 saw him attempt to show he had gas left in the tank. If you told us after his 24-goal season at age 23 that he’d only score double figures in one more season we’d have laughed. What could have been?
THE MIDLANDS VIA SOUTHAMPTON
Danny Ings. Speaking of injuries, poor Danny Ings had plenty of those in his time here. He had such a promising start with the Reds, but a torn ACL limited him to just 14 games in our strip. Thankfully he’s thrived since our influx of high-end attacking talent pushed him into a move away. Accruing 41 goals in 91 games as Southampton’s main man is the kind of run his hard work always deserved. His 12 goals in 44 games for Villa aren’t anything to sneeze at either. He has more professional goals than Sturridge (121-112 at print time) which seems strange. But I couldn’t be happier for Ings. He stole my heart and for that, I’m not sorry.
THE MIDLANDS VIA BARCELONA
Philippe Coutinho. The Little Magician was my first favorite LFC player. Texting a friend “Coutinho!!!!” after each of his looping goals from the edge of the box was a regular occurrence. His departure for the Camp Nou devastated me. I remember moping around my mom’s house that Christmas listening to Liverpool podcasts and wondering what was next. What was next for us was so much better than what was next for him. He was at Barca long enough for “4-0” before being loaned to Bayern Munich for a season. He saw his return to the Blaugrana cut short by a knee injury where he was lost for the season. One loan then one permanent transfer put him in the Midlands with Aston Villa.
The nomadic life probably isn’t as bad as I make it sound. After all, he won five trophies at Barcelona, three at Bayern, and a Copa America with Brazil. I’d like to think he misses us as well and occasionally wonders what might have been had he stayed and been a hero of the Kop for the remainder of his career. (There’s that sentimentalist again!)
Well, I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it here for now. Old friends, near and far. I wish them all well. This has been Volume Two of American Scouser’s “Where Are They Now?” We’ll see you in 2023 for Volume Three!