Whoever Liverpool decided to sign in the January transfer window was unlikely to overshadow the transfers of January 2011.
Whilst the big-money signing of Andy Carroll still registers in the consciousness of many Reds supporters who often wonder just how that £35 million could have been spent differently, the other signing on that momentous January deadline day, when Fernando Torres headed off to Chelsea, has gone on to become his club’s main man.
Of the three players who swapped clubs on that day, Luis Suarez has―bar the odd high-profile mishap―proven to be the only outstanding success, so much so that every attacking signing Liverpool have made since has happened with him in mind, including that of Daniel Sturridge.
The 23-year-old might seem to be an underwhelming signing to supporters who remember a team containing the likes of Torres, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano just a few short―although they now seem long―seasons ago, but given the current status of the club and the player it would be tough to think of any realistic option who would be better.
Liverpool won’t sign another Suarez until they can return to somewhere approaching the summit of the English game, and so in moving for the likes of Sturridge―young, hungry, undoubtedly talented players who have more than a few points to prove―they can at least create a platform to get the best out of their star man.
The signing of Sturridge will help Suarez in that it will remove some of the goalscoring burden that has been placed on the Uruguayan.
Also, whilst certain selfish aspects of Sturridge’s game have been flagged up since his arrival at Anfield, he becomes only the second currently available first-team player who has been brought up with a forward’s instinct. It is an instinct that Suarez shares and could now thrive off.
The third of those players, Fabio Borini, should return to action soon to give Liverpool even more options.
Raheem Sterling is also gradually showing signs that he is developing a ruthless streak and a capability to score goals―something that both Brendan Rodgers and Sterling’s mother are keen to see more of (via LiverpoolFC.com)―and finding the net in the new year could prove to be a little easier for Liverpool than they made it look for the majority of 2012.
When Suarez was thrown together with Carroll on that day in January 2011, it saw a union of two forwards who could barely have been more different had they been engineered to be just that in a laboratory, and whilst Liverpool’s past shows that opposites can attract when creating strike partnerships―Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, Emile Heskey and Michael Owen―the way that the current team plays requires a much more fluid style, to which Sturridge can contribute.
He is far from the finished article, of course, but given that even Suarez has dramatically improved during his two years with the Reds, Sturridge can only hope that his rise is just as obvious.
When Suarez was in prolific form for Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie he had others such as Marko Pantelic and Siem de Jong around who were chipping in with a double-figured number of league goals.
Although Liverpool may have left it a bit late into the season to expect Sturridge to do that immediately, they have at least given their star man a player he can look to click with and a partnership whose varying qualities are sure to keep the majority of Premier League defences busy.
Whatever he does, Sturridge won’t be able to outshine the efforts of Suarez in a red shirt this season, but the forward does add a dash of unpredictability to a team whose entirely predictable approach often just involved looking for their Uruguayan up front.
It may sound a little paradoxical to suggest that this new approach will actually aid Suarez, but with a little of the burden taken off his shoulders, and with a player on board who he can hope to combine well with, we might just see an even better Suarez this year. And he could partially have Sturridge to thank for that.
January 2013 might just prove to be as important as January 2011 was.