In Harry Kane, England can probably boast the best striker in Europe right now.
But before Kane came along, over the course of a single season, English football was blessed by the mercurial finishing talents of Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge’s career has gradually declined since his pinnacle in the 2013/14 campaign, joining West Brom on loan for the remainder of this term on Monday.
The Birmingham-born forward’s demise has been like watching a car crash in slow motion; crippled by injury after injury which have inevitably shackled his main features.
But during Liverpool’s ‘nearly-men’ season in 2013/14 that saw the Reds come perilously close to a first Premier League title, Sturridge was arguably the finest out and out striker around.
Luis Suarez dazzled and hogged the plaudits that campaign, winning the PFA Player of the Year award and forging a move to Barcelona off the back of it.
But Sturridge, for pure, lethal goalscoring prowess was something special whereas the Uruguayan tended to float around him.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi aren’t recognised ‘number nines’, so there’s certainly an argument that Sturridge was, for 12 months or so, the best in business.
The former Chelsea and Man City hitman bagged 24 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions that season, including 21 in the league.
At one stage he found the net in eight consecutive Premier League matches, picking up two PFA Player of the Month awards in the process.
Sturridge has been slapped with the ‘selfish’ tag all his life but that season dispels that myth.
He established a telepathic understanding with Suarez, developed a link with Philippe Coutinho that would later blossom and took a raw Raheem Sterling under his wing.
Just sit back and enjoy this thread:
But that’s as good as it got for Sturridge.
Inside the first month of the following season he incurred a thigh injury on England duty which became a sign of things to come.
At one point in 2016 the England man had been unavailable for 54.8% of Liverpool’s games over a two-year span.
Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield signalled the end of Sturridge’s role as main man at the club, with Roberto Firmino far more in tune with the German’s attacking mentality.
He’s still been effective when given the opportunity, but the incessant injury record has ravaged the tricks and traits that once made him so unstoppable.
Here’s hoping the Baggies provide the springboard to a resurgence and maybe even a shot at making England’s World Cup squad.
But Sturridge’s brilliance that one season can’t be underestimated and it’s been sorely missed since.
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