Daniel Sturridge isn’t expected to play against Hull City today. In all likelihood, with the top four out of reach and his various struggles this term, he won’t play again this season with the target instead a pre-season return. Meanwhile, while Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, and Fabio Borini may all be fit, it’s become quite clear that none are in Brendan Rodgers’ long-term plans.
That led many to expect one of Philippe Coutinho or Raheem Sterling would lead the line, with Rodgers again choosing between his two flavours of false nine. With the season effectively over and the focus on next season, though, rumour has it that the manager may instead take the chance to experiment. The chance to give another youngster a chance and by doing so find out just how much striking help the club need this summer.
That youngster is Samed Yesil, who signed from Bayer Leverkusen as a 17-year-old in 2012. He cost Liverpool £1M, which was widely considered a bargain for one of the best young prospects in Germany and a striker starlet often compared to the legendary Gerd Muller. Unfortunately, following a promising start for his new club with the youth and reserves, Yesil ruptured his ACL. He has spent much of the past two seasons sidelined.
Now 20, Yesil still has plenty of time to develop into the striker he looked set to become, and he has impressed in recent weeks following his return from his latest injury setback. Few, though, expected him to start—or even to make the bench—for the first team this season. But with Sturridge out and Rodgers’ only options strikers he doesn’t rate and players who aren’t strikers, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise it appears he might.
In truth, it wouldn’t even seem much of a gamble by the manager. Balotelli has been better than his press clippings, but he remains an awkward fit for the way Liverpool want to play and clearly isn’t in the manager’s long-term plans. Lambert has been worse. Borini has never been able to turn his smart movement and good positioning into goals. Coutinho and Sterling are, at the end of the day, simply not natural strikers.
So why not try out Yesil? At the very least he couldn’t be any worse. At best, he could end up the next youngster who impresses when given the chance under Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool’s striker needs heading into the summer might come to seem a little less urgent.