For many, perhaps even most, the assumption for some time now has been that Daniel Sturridge would be moving on at the end of the 2016-17 season. Not because he isn’t a quality striker, but because his struggles with injury over the last three seasons make it impossible for the club to count on him to stay fit.
That it turn has meant that even were he to remain at the club, Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool would have to construct a first choice squad around the assumption that Sturridge wouldn’t be in it—that his involvement would be as a bonus rather than as a building block. In short, Sturridge would have a squad role.
“That is for the club to decide,” he noted when asked what his future held now that the season has come to its end. “For myself, I’m enjoying my football. My job is to go on the pitch and put my best foor forward. There’s nothing really to discuss—I have two years left on my deal and I’m happy here.”
Given he has spent the past three seasons injured and it hasn’t been until the final few games of 2016-17 those injury struggles have seemed to get in the way of playing the way Klopp would like his striker to, the club know they cannot head back into the Champions League with Sturridge pencilled in as first choice striker.
If he can play as he has in May over an entire season, then perhaps he could earn that status again. But the club cannot gamble on him doing that. Yet any club that wants to be in the top four of the Premier League, to maintain their position there while competing in the Champions League, needs real quality in its depth.
If Sturridge is content to be that depth next season and to have the chance to demonstrate, over the course of the season, that he’s able to stay fit and contribute at a consistently high level, the club would be foolish to offload him. That’s a whole lot of ifs, though, even if they might look a little more hopeful than a month ago.
“I would have liked to have played more,” Sturridge added of the just completed campaign, “but I am grateful to the club for the opportunities and the manager has been really nice to me.”