Liverpool Must Only Sell Daniel Sturridge If They Find a Top-Class Replacement

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Liverpool Must Only Sell Daniel Sturridge If They Find a Top-Class Replacement
ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been linked with a move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, with reports suggesting a fee in the region of £45 million.

The stories arrived during an international break, with tabloids desperate to fill column inches and back pages with sensational headlines. Such Sturridge rumours certainly tick that box.

The Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel claimed: "A delegation from the Parisian club are due in London to attend England’s clash with Holland at Wembley on Tuesday."

With PSG duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani expected to leave the club this summer, there's no doubting PSG could be in the market for a top forward or two.

Sturridge, though, is Liverpool's most prolific goalscorer—when fit, of course—and the Reds would be foolish to cash in on the 26-year-old unless there's a solid plan to replace him.

Learning from Mistakes

The summer of 2014 should be what comes to mind for Liverpool. That summer saw Luis Suarez depart for Barcelona, with the Reds believing they had a deal to sign Chilean Alexis Sanchez to replace him.

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Sanchez would have been the most ideal replacement, adding similar qualities and style to the Reds squad.

Alas, Sanchez signed for Arsenal, and Liverpool struggled to find a replacement for Suarez, dropping a deal for Loic Remy at the final stages, per the Liverpool Echo, and eventually gambling on Mario Balotelli.

It was a nightmare summer that set the club back massively—one they've still not recovered from. Suarez was gone. Sturridge got injured two months into the season and hardly featured again.

Liverpool made two mistakes: thinking they had Sanchez signed and sealed before they had and relying too much on the injury-prone Sturridge thereafter.

Balotelli failed to fit in, with then-manager Brendan Rodgers eventually playing Raheem Sterling up front.

Twelve months after Suarez, it was Sterling making a high-profile departure from Anfield.

No matter the feelings some Liverpool supporters have toward Sterling, the club was again selling one of its most talented players.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

This is the problem Liverpool face after so many years away from the top of English and European football; they are consistently selling their better players—and the cycle repeats.

Selling a quality player because of mitigating factors doesn't have to be a backward step. But for Liverpool, it consistently proves to be that way because they fail to replace their departing stars.

Suarez, Sterling, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia—have any of those been adequately replaced since they left the club?

Liverpool, for whatever reason, have become a selling club. Selling Sturridge would provide further proof of this.

Sturridge

Since returning from injury early in February, Sturridge has started seven games, made one appearance as a substitute and been an unused sub twice. It's the longest run of games without injury for the forward since the 2013/14 season. Liverpool fans will be hoping he doesn't break down again while he's away with England.

The former Chelsea forward hasn't quite hit top form under Jurgen Klopp, with only three goals since his most recent return, but he has proved he is the Reds' best finisher.

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His goal against Southampton in the Reds' last outing was a typical Sturridge finish—not too dissimilar to his goals against the same side in the League Cup in December, just before his latest injury.

Klopp insisted on ensuring a full recovery was undertaken before Sturridge returned to the fold, only allowing the forward back into the squad once he'd completed 10 consecutive days of what the German boss termed a "mini pre-season." That firm approach from Klopp is what the player needed in order to build up his robustness.

Since then, the Liverpool manager has continued to handle Sturridge with care, such as leaving him out of the squad against Manchester City after the League Cup final. All wise management.

Klopp knows Sturridge's qualities. He isn't going to risk the player in one game to then have him out injured for more than one match.

The boss will also know what Sturridge is capable of when fully fit and on form.

Replacement

While some supporters might hastily think selling Sturridge for the sum quoted in the papers would be a good thing, they should stop to think about exactly what that means for Liverpool—once again selling one of their star players.

But should the club make a business decision and decide that a fee of around £45 million is too good to turn down for a player of Sturridge's injury record, there must be a contingency plan in place.

Much has been made of the potential pulling power of Klopp this summer, and the German would be key to signing a replacement for Sturridge.

There's no other way Liverpool could attract a player of the quality of Sturridge. Not unless they somehow navigate past Borussia Dortmund, go on to win the UEFA Europa League and consequently have UEFA Champions League football to offer.

Sturridge has 47 goals in 81 appearances for Liverpool—more than a goal-per-game average. That isn't easily replicated.

CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

Mario Gotze continues to be linked with Liverpool, but the 23-year-old has had his own injury problems in recent seasons, is unproven in the Premier League and has never had a strike record like Sturridge's. He's more of an attacking midfielder than an out-and-out forward.

Liverpool would need something different to Gotze to replace Sturridge. They'd need a robust forward capable of leading the line in Klopp's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation—and there's hardly an abundance of such players.

Klopp recently said no player is indispensable at Anfield, telling reporters: "Everything is okay at the moment but nobody in the world—maybe only Lionel Messi—is unsellable." 

Clearly, the thought of Sturridge leaving Liverpool this summer is one the club must have considered. Therefore, they must have a plan in place should it happen.

What would be best would be to keep Sturridge, sell Christian Benteke and Balotelli and fund the signing of another forward to compete with Sturridge at Anfield from their sales—no more selling the star player and taking another step sideways or backward.

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