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Rumour Mongering: January Transfer Scramble for Sturridge?

West Ham United and Stoke City have been touted as possible destinations for the 27-year-old.

Swansea City v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Daily Mirror has linked Daniel Sturridge with a January move away from the club. The striker has been largely consigned to a substitute or rotational role this season as Jürgen Klopp has preferred Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané in his attack. Liverpool's front three have have worked excellently in Klopp's hard-running and pressing system to leave Sturridge on the sidelines, but will the striker push for a move away from Anfield?

The 27-year-old is without a goal in eight Premier League appearances this season but has scored four goals in two EFL Cup appearances. He went into this season with 43 goals in 69 league appearances, so there is no need to worry about Daniel Sturridge scoring goals against teams in the top flight. Sturridge has to respond to unfair criticisms about his work ethic, which have been part of a negative narrative surrounding the striker.

Daniel Sturridge has scored 57 goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions—a record that isn't filled with goals just against domestic cannon fodder. The past two seasons have been difficult ones due to his noted struggles with injuries, but Sturridge generally looked sharp whenever he returned to the side. Question him for his ability to remain fit for large portions of the season, but there should be no doubts about his striking instincts against any level of opponent.

The story in the Mirror is written by Darren Lewis, a journalist that seems to be particularly concerned with raising questions about Sturridge's future at Anfield. Lewis has posed leading questions to Klopp in the past, but like many journalists, he became familiar with the 49-year-old's intolerance for errant nonsense. With all due respect to Stoke City and West Ham United, Sturridge probably needs to spend another 18 months in the wilderness to be reasonably linked with those teams.

Mané will be at the African Cup of Nations in January, the festive fixtures will test the squad next month, and a season can be dark and full of terrors with injuries, loss of form, and suspensions. Klopp has shown a propensity to do things differently and spring a surprise, but it would be a big surprise to see Sturridge leave in January. As the club's highest-paid player and best striker, there will surely be a role for him in the months ahead.

There's also a contract that expires in 2019, which makes a reported £28 million fee a little low considering that Leicester City offered £30 million for Troy Deeney in the summer and Liverpool sold Christian Benteke to virtually recoup the money paid for the Belgian striker. Don't forget that Klopp confirmed that he's exploring the possibility of adding to his attacking options in mid-season transfer window.

Questioning Sturridge's long-term future is an entirely different exercise. Roberto Firmino is only two years younger at 25 and suits Klopp's system perfectly to the benefit of those around him. Simply put, Firmino sets the tone in attack. Sturridge was part of a front three in 2013/14 that required support not upgrades, and unfortunately for Sturridge, the same looks to be true for this season's attacking triumvirate.

Playing a supporting role is one thing for Divock Origi in his early twenties, but it's very different proposition for a talented, well-paid, and high-profile striker in his late twenties. This appears to be an issue for all parties to consider at the end of the season, and even at such a time, the restoration of European football may prove to be a satisfactory solution for all concerned.

If Sturridge eventually leaves in the summer, it will be a product of Liverpool moving forward with a system that demands a certain level of hard running and pressing that not every attacking player can provide. It doesn't mean he's lazy, it doesn't mean that Klopp is pushing the player out, and it certainly doesn't mean that Sturridge is agitating for a move.

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