Can Sturridge become genuinely world class at Liverpool?

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Daniel Sturridge can be one of Europe’s top strikers but can the England striker become one of the world’s best?

On present form, you would have to answer the question with a resounding ‘yes’ – the 24-year-old Reds frontman currently leads the Premier League with 6 goals, more than any other player.

He has scored 8 goals in 9 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool so far this season and, furthermore, he has a record of 19 goals in 25 appearances. That, as Rodgers correctly states, is up there with the best on the continent.

"He's got a great touch, is very strong on his left side and his right side, he's got super pace - once he's away, he's away, you're not catching him," said the Anfield boss.

"He's clever in his movement and his runs, he's a good footballer; he drops into spaces, picks up the ball, sets the game, spins. He's also got an eye for goal.”

"The area that he's looking to improve on is his heading, as he showed last week away at Sunderland. He's a boy who I still think there's a lot of improvement to make. When he does, I think he can prove to be one of the top strikers in European football,” he added.

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Currently, Sturridge in fact sits 4th in Europe in terms of his goal tally behind Diego Costa (10 goals for Athletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (8 goals for Barcelona), and Cristiano Ronaldo (7 goals for Real Madrid). Every single on of those players, especially the latter two, must be considered ‘world class’.

It’s a term that’s thrown around all too easily by pundits and analysts but, when it comes to Daniel Sturridge, I think very soon, if not already, it will be a term that fits aptly – his quality and ability, not just in front of goal but all over the pitch for Liverpool, this term and off the back of his half-season last term since his arrival from Chelsea in January, has really improved.

Presently, he is playing with so much confidence and positivity – his ability to combine with Luis Suarez rather than compete with him is important too, not just for Rodgers but for his own development – he really is every bit the world-class forward that Suarez is. They are very different players but, with the World Cup just around the corner next summer, Rodgers can expect to be the direct beneficiary of a fit and in form Daniel Sturridge who is working his socks off to book his place on the fight to Brazil with England.

So far this term, Sturridge has completely dwarfed all of Roy Hodgson’s other potential choices up front for England – Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, Jermaine Defoe, Rickie Lambert, and the injured Andy Carroll. He has to be given the nod ahead of all of those except perhaps for Rooney who could in fact likely combine with him in a similar manner to Suarez, playing in that number 10 role.

Daniel Sturridge is 24 years old and after being given his chance by Rodgers and Liverpool last season following his disappointing lack of opportunity at both Chelsea and Manchester City, he can head into the best years of his playing career for both club and country and I full expect, by this time next year, after the World Cup, by which point he’ll be 25 years of age, Daniel Sturridge will be considered a world class striker on a par with the likes of Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Robert Lewandowski, Radamel Falcao, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, and Edinson Cavani.

That is the bar he must reach and, given his progress so far under Rodgers at Anfield, you’d have to say, by the time he reaches their age (26 – 30) he can and likely will be at their level – genuinely world class.

image: © kuaver

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