It seems to be a popular decision with most Liverpool fans and pundits, but with his £12 million transfer to Anfield just days from completion, it's fair to say a move away from Stamford Bridge has been a long time coming for England striker Daniel Sturridge. But could it be a risky signing for Brendan Rodgers' side as they look to add a striker to their ranks?
Despite finishing the 2011/12 season with a Champions League and FA Cup to his name, he struggled to adapt to the changes brought about at the club after Andre Villas-Boas, the man who placed his faith in Sturridge, was brutally sacked in February. Sturridge had been in the starting lineup for the majority of the games under Villas-Boas and scored 13 league goals in the process.
But under Roberto Di Matteo, the 23-year-old found himself warming the bench, paving the way for Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba to return from exile and fire them to glory.
The fans, in particular, have never really warmed to Sturridge since he moved to London on a free transfer from Manchester City back in 2009. His individual style of play, a combination of trickery and excellent footwork, is not always favoured by the Chelsea supporters. Mix in his tendency to shoot from range rather than pick out a teammate, and Sturridge is usually the man to blame if the West Londoners fail to take their chances in front of goal.
In football, any player that possesses a high level of confidence in their ability is sometimes prone to becoming over confident. Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an example. The Swede is a huge asset to Paris Saint-Germain and his country Sweden, but sometimes his belief in his own ability is high enough to alienate his teammates and cause unrest in the squad. This isn't so much the case with Sturridge, but his focus of scoring individual goals as opposed to team goals could be a reason as to why his chances have been limited on Kings Road.
That being said, it's fair to say that some criticisms of Sturridge are harsh since he has never really been given a chance to prove his true worth to Chelsea. Chances were at a premium under Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti, who opted to play Drogba or Fernando Torres as the main striker. Perhaps to a lesser extent this was also the case under Di Matteo, who opted to put Sturridge out wide.
However, despite experiencing regular playing time under Di Matteo, it didn't stop him from publicly voicing his frustration that the club continued to put faith in Spaniard Torres, who was experiencing something of a goal drought, as the main striker when he should play there instead.
Sturridge's desire to be treated as an important player could certainly be a problem for Liverpool, as Luis Suarez is widely seen as the star man at Anfield—and rightly so. Almost carrying the team at times, the Uruguayan international has earned his stripes at the Merseyside club, becoming a fan favorite and scoring 13 league goals in 19 appearances so far this season. With Brendan Rodgers opting for a 4-3-3 formation, Suarez is the obvious option as the main center forward, with wing sensation Raheem Sterling positioned out on the left, meaning that Sturridge would almost certainly play on the right hand side for the Kop.
What's worse is that Northern Irishman Rodgers has already had to quell speculation that the former Coventry trainee has demanded a center forward starting berth before he's even signed for the club. His warning to Sturridge, and to all players interested in joining Liverpool, was that the manager picks the team, not the players. The risk here is that Sturridge is obviously keen to play in a more central position, so will playing him out on the flank affect his attitude? From past events, you can't rule it out. His injury record is not great either, with the forward currently out of action with a hamstring injury.
Consider the fact that Fabio Borini could return from injury in February or March, and Andy Carroll is poised to come back to Anfield after his loan spell at West Ham expires, and suddenly you have a surplus amount of strikers. While £12 million is not an excessive amount for an extremely gifted player, who turns 24 next September, the question will be can he adapt to the Reds' style of play? He possesses a blistering amount of pace, his acceleration and agility allow him to beat a man and his powerful shot enables him to be a threat from anywhere inside the opposition's half.
Only time will tell if the move works out for all parties. For Sturridge and England's sake, there's a general hope that if he can be successful for his club, he can repeat the same form for his country. For Liverpool, many will hope he can inspire them to new heights of greatness under Brendan Rodgers. But for Chelsea? Well, there's always Demba Ba.
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