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Where in the World Is the Artful Daniel Sturridge?

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Injuries and a lack of playing time have sabotaged the once inspired his power. What next for the Liverpool striker?

Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

There was a time when the inclusion of Daniel Sturridge in a match against a League Two side would have guaranteed entertainment. Goals would have been forecast. Footwork, movement, and guile would have been assured. But that isn’t the case at the moment for the Liverpool striker. And there’s mounting concern that the player’s artfulness on the pitch has been permanently impaired by injury and lack of playing time over several seasons.

Questions over Daniel’s suitability to Jürgen Klopp’s style of play can and will be argued hither and yon. I’ve mostly stood clear of these contretemps because I have felt positive about the player’s ability to learn and the manager’s ability to teach. Or positive about the two finding common ground. Or of whatever. But I’m finding it more and more difficult to take that stance.

Maybe it’s the scrappy game. Maybe it’s whiskey talking. But Sturridge’s performance against Plymouth Argyle, while certainly not the only lacklustre showing, perhaps highlights something deeper than rustiness or quality of the team can account for. Is there an insurmountable obstacle between the player’s natural style and the manager’s demands?

Challenge that take as you must. I will listen. I will want to believe your defense of a Sturridge resurgence, coming on strongly and with marvelous staying power. I will want to dream of a weekly Sturridge dance celebration.

Of the things Daniel Sturridge, at his best, can do on the pitch. The things we have seen him do to score. Defenders were useless, at times, against him. Their presence ineffective when Sturridge was at his peak. You see the way Diego Costa scores now, when he’s quicker, sharper, deadlier. Sturridge was that wonder of a goalscorer.

But the heights that Sturridge experienced at Liverpool during those days of league almost-winners, they are looking less and less likely to return. I believe Sturridge is an excellent striker who is just so out of form he’s just as likely to be a puddle on the turf as he is to confidently slot home a left-footed curler. I also believe that he is capable of putting up somewhere close to those eye-watering goal tallies he and Suarez shared from so many seasons ago. Eventually. I’m not optimistic about seeing it happen at Liverpool.

Again, insist otherwise. I’m happy to promote the Sturridge Admiration Society and would be more than happy to witness the England man turn it all around. In the short term, regardless, we can probably all agree Sturridge does have an important role to play in the squad over the second half of the season.

Liverpool are sitting in third place in the Premier League in a very claustrophobic top six. The team will need everything and more from all it’s forwards to maintain a spot in the top four. Roberto Firmino has been excellent but also inconsistent of late. Sadio Mane’s intelligent athleticism has gone off to AFCON for the month. Divock Origi is still young and dealing with a somewhat mercurial span of results.

The world-class sun may not shine down on Daniel’s boots any time soon, or indeed, anytime again while in a Liverpool shirt, but I will raise my glass and sing a verse of hope to the Birmingham native, hope for a return of that artfulness and a goal or two here and there this season, please.

Maybe play a couple old ones with Coutinho before you go, something from your first album. Something to dance to.