Why Daniel Sturridge Can Be the Natural Heir to Luis Suarez at Liverpool

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2013

You’ve probably heard, but Luis Suarez has been pretty vocal about his Liverpool future of late.

Reports such as this one from the BBC have been everywhere in recent days, with the Uruguayan dropping hints that he could be set to leave the Reds with the same regularity that he found the back of the net in the season just passed.

Liverpool have, of course, been quick to claim that Suarez isn’t for sale, according to the Liverpool Echo, but in truth there was little else that they could do given that the forward’s comments will have alerted the many clubs who would be desperate to possess his talents―most notably Real Madrid.

Whilst the thought of losing clearly your best player and leading goalscorer isn’t one that football fans are particularly fond of feeling, the idea of Suarez’s sale has at least got Reds fans wondering what life would be like without a man who, rightly or wrongly, has always found his way into the headlines.

Liverpool’s status as a club now out of the Champions League for the past three-and-a-half seasons―a tally which will become four-and-a-half this time next year―means that they are extremely unlikely to be able to tempt a world star on the level of Suarez to the club at the moment, but that means that any windfall from the Uruguayan’s sale can perhaps be invested in three or four promising players who will improve the squad in different areas.

As for the striking department, the Reds may already have a player in their ranks who can step up to the plate.

Scoring 11 goals in his first 16 Liverpool appearances made for a stunning start to Anfield life for Daniel Sturridge.

The former Manchester City and Chelsea forward has slotted into the Reds side with ease, quickly becoming one of the team’s main men and showing fans just what they were missing when Brendan Rodgers decided not to complete a deal for the England man’s services last August as opposed to January.

Who knows where Liverpool could have finished their season had they had Sturridge on board for the whole of it, but it is perhaps telling that the Englishman often performed well in Suarez’s absence.

Of course there were the instances of the pair linking up to perfection―Sturridge’s dummy for Suarez to score against Norwich, Suarez’s stunning cross for Sturridge to equalise against Chelsea, then Sturridge reversing the roles for Suarez to level the scores in the 97th minute of the same game; perhaps scoring with his last touch for Liverpool in the process―but Sturridge still often showed his quality without his partner by his side.

In fact, over half of those 11 goals that he scored during his first half a campaign in a red shirt came when Suarez wasn’t on the pitch.

Those strikes included two goals at Newcastle and a hat-trick at Fulham when Suarez was suspended, matches which suggested that Sturridge can flourish next season in matches where the Reds can punish defences who keep a high line, largely thanks to the passing of Philippe Coutinho, the energy of the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson and, of course, Sturridge’s pace.

The Englishman certainly isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Suarez because he doesn’t possess his quality―very few footballers in the world do―but he can succeed in his absence next season if the Reds play to his strengths.

As mentioned above, should Suarez leave, Liverpool would be better off reinvesting the money to improve the overall quality of the squad as opposed to targeting a big-name forward―and don’t forget that Fabio Borini is at the club and Iago Aspas looks as though he’s been secured too, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

In Sturridge they have a player who might not have the same star appeal as the talented but possibly departing Uruguayan just yet, but one who can score goals.

Perhaps Sturridge will look back on a Suarez sale as the moment his Reds career really began.