By 90Min
December 09, 2017

It was little more than three years ago when Daniel Sturridge was being labelled as one of the most lethal marksmen in Europe. 

Part of a three-pronged attack dubbed the 'SAS', Sturridge had terrorised defences alongside Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling as Liverpool came agonisingly close to claiming the Barclays Premier League crown.

Now it seems that Sturridge is nothing more than a peripheral figure at Anfield, backup to one of the most potent attacking forces across Europe. Short of confidence, struggling for fitness and unable to force his way into Jurgen Klopp's plans, it seems a career that was destined for stardom is on the verge of drifting off into total obscurity.

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Part of an exciting but ultimately unsuccessful title charge, Sturridge's talents had been showcased at the highest level by a brand of football not seen an Anfield for years. Brendan Rodgers had set his team up to attack, swarm forward at every opportunity and ultimately, aim to outscore the opposition. 

Sturridge was reaping the benefits, notching an impressive 24 goals in 33 appearances during that infamous 2013/14 season. He was being touted as the next great England goalscorer, and an inspiration for a new generation of young English talent.

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Yet his career has taken an altogether different course, with Sturridge a regular feature on the substitutes bench these days. The main contributor to his sudden decline has been a swathe of injuries. Since signing from Chelsea back in January 2013, Sturridge has spent close to two full calendar years on the sidelines with various ailments and injuries that have left him a shadow of the player he was.

Notorious for his sudden burst of pace, Sturridge intimidated defences with his movement and ability to go past defenders. Having undergone hip surgery and struggled with hamstring injuries, his key attribute of speed is no longer a potent weapon. He now relies on the guile and creativity of team-mates such as Phillippe Coutinho to open up and unlock the opposition for him, a trait that would have been attributed to him just a few seasons ago.

The goals are still there, but not with the same regularity. Since that failed assault on the title, Sturridge has still managed to score 28 goals in 83 appearances in all competitions.

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It isn't a bad ratio, but his influence on proceedings has vastly diminished in that time. The fear of facing Sturridge no longer exists. More worryingly, he has only featured 83 times since May 2014, with a fair proportion of those recent appearances coming as a second half substitute. When supporters discuss the threat of Liverpool's frontline, Sturridge's name is absent from those conversations.

It would appear his Liverpool career is in the balance, with recent speculation suggesting that Sturridge could be used as a makeweight for a bid for Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi. Indeed, it is widely expected that he will look to leave the club on loan in order to find regular first team action.

Whilst he may not possess the same athletic prowess that he did a few years ago, few would argue that Sturridge still possesses some of the tools required to make an impact at the highest level. Sturridge is 28, and with many years ahead of him in the game, could benefit greatly from a fresh start to kick start his faltering career.

His finishing ability has never been called into question and should he be able to prove his fitness, many teams would surely be interested in the services of a natural finisher like Daniel Sturridge.

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