Dominic Solanke stays; Daniel Sturridge goes; Has Jurgen Klopp put his money on the wrong horse?
Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke made a cameo appearance in the closing stages of Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town. The young England international still awaits his first Reds goal since July’s move from Chelsea. Reds manager Jurgen Klopp may have made the wrong choice betting on Dominic Solanke over Daniel Sturridge.
The oft-injured elder England player was surprisingly loaned out to West Bromwich Albion through season's end. In the immortal words of Gordon Sumner, Jurgen, you didn't have to leave the Reds light on attacking options. Wouldn't it be ironic if someone else was injured in Sturridge's absence?
Apparently, Klopp had to choose between the two strikers. Did he choose the right one?
Solanke’s slow Anfield start
The 20-year-old hasn’t had the best start to his Liverpool career. He's failed to find the back of the net in 19 appearances in all competitions. Solanke joined the Reds on a five-year deal, so his future at Anfield looks somewhat set in stone for the immediate future. An early loan move wouldn't have been a disaster.
Klopp has trusted in him, giving the striker as many minutes from the bench as possible. That trust hasn't been repaid and the bill is getting steep. Solanke has found himself an unused substitute in four of Liverpool’s last seven Premier League games. In the other three, he picked up a paltry 113 minutes. How long can the German remain patient?
What good is a striker who can’t score? Unless he's Emile Heskey, not much. If Liverpool need to look to the bench for inspiration, Klopp will have to overlook Solanke. At his tender age, the player isn't going to find confidence by continually struggling, or by sitting and watching.
Sturridge might have been the better choice to keep around. Having a prolific forward waiting in the wings could be vital to turn draws into wins. Instead, the Liverpool boss let that player move to the Midlands.
Sturridge too prolific to let go
Daniel Sturridge is now at the Hawthorns. He joins a side bottom of the table but only four points from 14th. The Baggies are among the lowest scorers in the division. The 28-year-old scored seven goals in 11 starts in all competitions last season, all the while enduring an injury-hit campaign that saw him on the bench more than on the pitch. If he can stay healthy while setting that pace, West Brom will likely move up the table.
He’s scored 64 goals in 133 games for Liverpool. Yet, his playing style and injury problems have led to his departure. Klopp doesn’t seem to fancy Sturridge in attack. The centre-forward doesn’t cover as many blades of grass as Roberto Firmino. Still, there are few more ruthless scorers in the Premier League than the Englishman.
Even if Sturridge being on the pitch means a significant lack of movement and work rate, having somebody who can score close to a goal-per-game is a huge asset. Only four players boast more goals from the bench than the 28-year-old. Solanke runs about like a berserker with nothing to show. There's something to be said for efficiency.
Klopp made his decision. On its face, it seems he may have chosen wrong. Solanke has a future but needs valuable game time to develop in the midst of the Reds' struggle to earn a Champions League place. Sturridge guarantees goals the minute he gets onto the pitch. Who would you have chosen?