Jan Molby

No excuses: Sturridge must deliver at Liverpool

Jan Molby

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As much as the signing of Daniel Sturridge is a gamble for Liverpool, it is also a gamble for the player. He must take this opportunity and there can be no excuses any more. It is time for Sturridge to fulfil his potential.

Brendan Rodgers said yesterday that this is effectively the striker's last chance at a big club and it is rare you hear managers speak about new signings in such a manner. But Rodgers has a way with young players: look at the way he kept Raheem Sterling grounded during that brief contract impasse.

Sturridge might have had a quick double-take and thought, 'what's he saying?' But I like that attitude from Rodgers - he is sending out a message to his new signing, and a player he has known from a young age. His message is simple: if this move doesn't work then his next club won't be of a similar stature.

This transfer is not guaranteed to be a success. It could be a big hit or a big flop, as Sturridge is a very unpredictable player. But you can see why Liverpool would be interested.

He is a young player with huge potential. Four years ago when he broke onto the scene there were big things expected of him. He also fits into any of the front three positions that Liverpool have, making him a versatile asset.

But on the other hand we shouldn't get too excited. For one reason or another it hasn't quite happened for him so far in his career and he has been in and around the Premier League without fulfilling his potential as of yet.

The past year has been difficult for Sturridge as neither Roberto Di Matteo nor Rafa Benitez fancied him at Chelsea, but it is easy to forget that in the first half of last season under Andre Villas-Boas he was in excellent form.

That was when he was performing in a wide role, cutting in from the right, and that's what gives you hope that he might be able to make a similar impact for Liverpool, as he certainly won't be performing as the central striker at Anfield, much as he feels that is his best position.

Luis Suarez will always be the focal point of the Liverpool attack, but the Uruguayan has a free role so there will be space for Sturridge to come in from the left or right. I just don't think he is quite capable of being the lead striker by himself.

He will be wide left or right, easing the burden on young players like Sterling and Suso, who while they have made a good impact might suffer when it comes down to the nitty-gritty at the end of the season. Blackpool's Tom Ince also looks like he will be arriving to offer some help to the attack, though that might happen later in the window.

It can be a difficult role playing out wide and making yourself a second striker when the ball is in the box but if Sturridge understands that and makes it work then he could be an exciting player for Liverpool.

It is also a bit of good PR for John Henry and FSG as they moved quickly to conclude the deal, rather than dithering around, as we saw in the summer. The American owners had plenty of time to prepare for January of course, but they still wrapped it up swiftly.

In the recent past Liverpool haven't had a lot of success when buying British players with a big fee but £12 million sounds about right to me given Sturridge's age as he is 23 and still has plenty of football to play. You are buying a lot of potential, but he isn't exactly unproven either.

He has pedigree, but in theory all of his best football is in front of him - if he can get back to his best and make the most of a move to Liverpool.

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