Daniel Sturridge will stay at Liverpool for the 2018-19 season, providing proven goalscoring depth behind Roberto Firmino in a role the striker has embraced following what was a less than stellar experience on loan with West Brom for the second half of last season.
And while doubts about his ability to stay fit will remain until he can prove otherwise, the shift in emphasis as Liverpool’s squad improves and Sturridge himself comes to accept he may not be up to the rigours of starting every week could prove key to his chances.
“We’re not in doubt and nobody was ever in doubt about his quality,” manager Jürgen Klopp said during in a break in preparations for Liverpool’s pre-season match against Manchester City. “In this moment he looks good. That’s cool—really cool for him and cool for us.”
Really cool, though, doesn’t mean putting expectations on Sturridge to play ninety minutes every week, even if on some level that’s what every player wants. Really cool means, at least in part, embracing the role Sturridge is capable of following years of injury struggles.
“I’m in talks with him about what he feels,” Klopp continued. “I don’t want to make him the most physically strongest player in the squad or whatever and he has no possibility to be that, to be the marathon man of the team, but he can be a very decisive player.”
They’re words from the manager that echo Sturridge’s own, with the striker recently talking about how much he values being back at the club he considers home and a belief it doesn’t matter “if you play the first game or the 50th game—as long as you’re involved.”
Sturridge won’t be counted on to start regularly, but that might be what gives him a real chance now of staying fit and contributing. And a fit and contributing Daniel Sturridge is, like Klopp says, a decisive player—and one who will be involved.