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What does Daniel Sturridge bring to Liverpool?

Jan 2, 2013, 12:13 PM EDT

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For the last five months, Liverpool has lived with the mistakes of the summer transfer window. Their lack of depth at striker has left manager Brendan Rodgers little recourse but to experiment with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey at center forward when Luis Suárez was unavailable to be run into the ground.

That the Shelvey proxy worked during a win West Ham doesn’t overshadow the fact that a precarious August gambit allowing Andy Carroll to leave (on loan to Upton Park) has handcuffed the squad. Relying on Clint Dempsey’s acquisition (and then, undervaluing the former-Fulham, now-Spurs attacker in the summer window) compounded the inanity.

Today Liverpool acted quickly to rectify the situation, completing the most predictable move of the winter window. The Reds have signed 23-year-old Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. Others have placed the price in the neighborhood of $19.5 million (£12 million).

Given Chelsea paid around $10.5 million of the former Manchester City attacker, it’s a nice bit of business for somebody still largely unproved in the Premier League.

Sturridge can play wide but prefers being deployed through the middle. Under ideal circumstances, he could play with in or place of Suárez, though describing him as a complement would be generous. The knock on the infrequent England international is his teamwork, his inability to create for others making a comparison to Theo Walcott applicable beyond the duo’s identical age, similar positional preferences (and uses), and goal scoring output.

While Sturridge had a strong first half of 2011-12 under André Villas-Boas, he was one of the first players to lose his spot under Roberto Di Matteo. Rafa Benítez has failed to restore him to the starting XI, though Chelsea’s newfound depth (having acquired Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Victor Moses) and Sturridge’s impending departure were likely bigger factors than the player’s skill set.

Like Walcott, there are still questions whether he will be a reliable goal scorer, though (also like Walcott) a change may be necessary to bring out that potential. For the Arsenal man, a long-pined for move to the middle seems to have sparked his output. For Sturridge, relocating west may do the trick.

The price is unconfirmed, but if it is £12 million, Liverpool’s paying a Three Lions tariff. Sturridge would only be able to command two-thirds of that were he born outside England (or, perhaps, Great Britain). Another player who’d spent the better part of six seasons deflating expectations would be seen as a project, not an eight-figure buy. Given Sturridge was lured to Chelsea on reasonably high wages in the first place, this deal may still prove costly after the player’s settled on Mersey.

If the price is lower, the Sturridge signing becomes a reasonable move. He’s a talented player that fits a need. Moving into Brendan Rodgers’ system, Sturridge may be forced to develop the parts of his game that have, to this point, kept him from making the impact expected when he left Eastlands.

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