Jurgen Klopp’s relationship with Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was put under strain as soon as the German walked through the Anfield door last October and further cracks appearing this early in a new season don’t bode well.
Last term, Klopp had the hump over Sturridge’s continual and somewhat innocuous-sounding injury troubles, famously stating his player may need to decipher the difference between “serious pain and what is only pain”.
After finally regaining full fitness Sturridge would eventually go on to enjoy a goal-laden last few months of the season, ending with impressive figures of 13 in 25 all-competition appearances. He played predominantly as the central striker in a three-pronged attack.
However, Liverpool’s number 15 has immediately taken exception to his role in the team with the 2016/17 only just out the blocks, after being sent on to support central striker Divock Origi from the right flank during his team’s 5-0 thrashing of Burton in the EFL Cup.
Sturridge said. “Everyone knows where I enjoy playing the most. I’m a player who plays on instinct, and in the middle I have clarity on movements and things that I have been doing for years. I am on autopilot there. You just do things because you are used to doing it.”
He added: “I am not saying I am happy to do it, I am saying I have to do a job for the team.” The England forward did end up netting twice in the victory, though the emergence of Origi as a genuine threat to his preferred central starting role could spell trouble sooner rather than later.
The former Manchester City and Chelsea striker sought moves from those clubs having felt undervalued and it’s not beyond the realms that this seed of discontent grows on Merseyside.
Origi appears to be a favourite of Liverpool’s manager. Before an injury curtailed his involvement, the Belgian was on a role in the closing stages of the last campaign, scoring vital goals in Europe and looking like cementing a spot in the side.
With emphasis openly placed on winning the Europa League, Sturridge also seemed to be a little perturbed at being fielded in the less important league meetings in between the latter knockout games.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s next top-flight outing at Tottenham this Staurday lunchtime, Klopp was quick to respond to his player’s comments in an attempt to defuse the situation.
“The first thing is I don’t want to play Daniel as a wide player but of course he can start there and play there but in the decisive moments he needs to be involved in all the finishing situations,” said the German.
Klopp will hope his words have a placating effect, albeit there is also a strong hint in there that Sturridge may have to get used to starting more games out wide.
It will be very intriguing to see what statement Klopp makes with his next teamsheet against Spurs.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.