Daniel Sturridge’s problems might continue next season, despite his impending return from injury, writes David Anderson of the Daily Mirror – who believes Christian Benteke is set to become our first-choice striker.
There has been a lot of speculation over what Benteke’s imminent arrival from Aston Villa (via BBC Sport) means for Sturridge, who started just seven Premier League games last season, and Anderson claims that Brendan Rodgers has lost faith in the England man.
Sturridge has scored 40 goals in his first 66 games as a Liverpool player and still managed to outscore Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini last season, despite his limited game time.
However, the 25-year-old has been struck down by thigh, hamstring and hip problems over the last twelve months, and Anderson believes that Benteke’s arrival signals a change in approach from the Liverpool management.
Keep or sell – Rating the prospects of the eight Liverpool strikers, with Benteke set to join
(Video) Steven Gerrard holds Liverpool memento after scoring first MLS goal
Liverpool legend: Christian Benteke is worth MORE than £32.5m
It was certainly hoped that Sturridge would step into the shoes vacated by Luis Suarez and become our main man in the absence of the mercurial Uruguayan, but that responsibility will now be handed to Benteke.
As a result, Sturridge is likely to have to make do with a wide role in Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3 formation, with Benteke playing through the middle – a position he’s previously played for Chelsea. The move’s not likely to go down well with the former, who came to Liverpool to play in his preferred position (via BBC Sport).
Rodgers want to avoid a repeat of last season, where he put all his eggs in one basked with Sturridge, only to be let down. According to Anderson, he hopes Benteke will give Liverpool a physical presence in the opposition penalty box, something which was glaringly missing when Mario Balotelli played last season.
“With Benteke occupying the centre-halves, the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino should find space in behind to exploit,” he said.
“This was not the case when Balotelli played and too often he occupied these deep-lying positions. Rodgers may have to tweak Liverpool’s style slightly to get the best out of Benteke and he thrived at Aston Villa on crosses.
“Liverpool were too narrow at times last season and with Sterling gone, Jordon Ibe may be given the chance to provide some width. Benteke was at his best for Villa when they were counter-attacking and this is a key feature of Rodgers’s Liverpool because of the Ulsterman’s mantra about playing a pressing game high up the pitch to turn the ball over in dangerous areas.”
We’ve put together a little video compilation of the pair’s qualities below…
Sturridge at his best, showing great movement to poach the winner against Southampton –
Benteke gets the better of his marker and produces a moment of magic to find the net –