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Daniel Sturridge: The Right Man for NYCFC?

The Liverpool mainstay has been linked to MLS. Should the Bronx be the Englishman’s destination?

SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Group C

Before we get started, let’s address the elephant in the room: The Sun — an English tabloid — is a bit of a sketchy source when it comes to breaking news. Like many of its American contemporaries, the Sun is often accused of falsifying reports in order to push the merchandise. So much so, that any news sourced from the Sun has been outright banned from New York City FC’s subreddit. Therefore, I can’t in good confidence say that the (sort of) recent story of Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge exploring career options in MLS — an article in which NYCFC is mentioned by name — means all that much.

With that said, let’s analyze this for a second. Let’s, for a moment, presume the lads at the Sun are telling the truth and that they have it on good authority that Sturridge is considering a move stateside.

You ready?

(deep breath)

There was a time when Daniel Sturridge was considered to be one of England’s most promising attackers. Equipped with size, pace, a penchant for technicality, and a keen eye for goal, the Birmingham native rose through the youth ranks — which included spells at Aston Villa and Coventry City — before arriving to Manchester City.

Sturridge would only feature sparingly for the Cityzens, making only 21 appearances between 2006 and 2009. He would then find himself at Chelsea from 2009 to 2013, which included a pretty boss loan spell at Bolton in 2011. In a slight departure from his preferred No. 9 spot, then-Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti — and his successor André Villas-Boas — would primarily feature the young Sturridge in a winger role to supplement the attack which, at the time, included the now legendary Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. Sturridge’s allotted game time at the No. 9 position was still quite limited at the time, but he never really complained about it and even said that he was happy to do the job so long as the team found success (while maintaining that he was still a striker and desired to play there eventually).

Throughout this time, Sturridge was steadily climbing the ranks within England’s international circuit as well. After playing for practically every youth level in Jolly Old, Sturridge would finally make his debut for England in 2011 under Fabio Capello. Despite Capello stepping down shortly after the 2012 Euro Cup, Sturridge would continue featuring for England under replacement Roy Hodgson, making 19 appearances while scoring 6 goals in between 2012 and 2016.

On the club side, things were going ever better for Sturridge. In 2013, the striker would move on from Chelsea to Liverpool in the 2013 winter transfer window where his star began to emerge. In just half a season — and having to share the pitch with Luis Suarez — Sturridge made 14 appearances and scored 10 goals. After the following offseason, Sturridge would shine once again in a stellar — albeit injury-shortened — 2013-14 season, scoring 21 goals in 26 appearances while helping lead Liverpool to a 2nd place finish in the Premier League, just two points off the eventual winners Manchester City.

At the time, Sturridge was becoming a superstar and was looking to be the guy to lead England and Liverpool back to their legendary ways. But then, it began crashing down.

Between 2014 and 2015, Sturridge would sustain a plethora of injuries, causing him to miss 40 competitive matches with Liverpool. And although he would make the 2014 World Cup squad for England — and go as far as to score their only goal of the tournament — his spot would eventually be seized by Harry Kane in future competitions, with the up-and-coming Marcus Rashford being given understudy duty.

Things weren’t going much better for Sturridge on the club level either. After several seasons spent injured, Liverpool would eventually employ the triad of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and — most recently — Mohamed Salah to to supply their goals.

This article is not the first to feature Daniel Sturridge’s name. As a matter of fact, I listed the Birmingham-born as one of my four potential Designated Player targets back in November when it was still unclear as to whether David Villa would continue his career in the Bronx (spoiler alert: he went to Japan).

The reason why I’ve always been an advocate for such a move is simple: Sturridge is a very good player who currently finds himself at a crossroads in his European career. Not only that, he possesses the proper intangibles to make himself a threat in North America; pace, size, strength, an eye for goal, time is still on his side, and his resume is stacked with impressive accolades. And with Villa gone, there is no more suitable place for the Englishman to make his stamp on MLS than under the bright lights of New York City.

The only thing holding DS back is his inability to stay healthy. And if that can be somehow mitigated, a move to NYCFC practically sells itself.

As of right now, Liverpool have not announced any intentions on resigning Sturridge ahead of his contract with the Reds expiring on June 30 of this year. Also as of now, NYCFC is without a pure No. 9. And with plenty of money freed up after Jo Inge Berget and Cedric Hontoundji both being given the proverbial pink slip, a splash of cash on a proven striker such as Sturridge has never made more sense.