Liverpool prepared to shift Luis Suarez to accommodate Daniel Sturridge
Brendan Rodgers hopes new £12m striker can seize moment on centre stage
Luis Suarez, despite scoring more goals in five months than he did in the whole of last season, is likely to lose his position as Liverpool's central striker to Daniel Sturridge.
Their manager, Brendan Rodgers, said today that Suarez would play "for the common good of the team" which, given his skill and flexibility, is likely to be either on the left of a three-man attack or as a classic No 10, operating behind Sturridge.
"I have spoken with Luis at length about it a number of times," Rodgers said. "This has been the plan for a few months. When he played at Ajax, he played behind the striker as a No 10, in between the lines.
"He also played as a reverse winger from the left side. Wherever he plays, he will make the same movements and he will find space because he is a world-class player."
Sturridge is two years younger than the 25-year-old Uruguayan and he is far from world-class. Only at Bolton, where he scored eight times in a dozen games in a side that, under Owen Coyle, played in a similar style to Rodgers' Liverpool, has he demonstrated his obvious potential. And, having paid Chelsea £12m for his services, Liverpool are prepared to be tough with him.
After Wednesday night's 3-0 win over Sunderland, in which Suarez took his tally to 18 for the season, Rodgers said bluntly that this would be Sturridge's last chance at a "big club". His new captain, Steven Gerrard, argued that there could be no more excuses for failure.
"Daniel has the quality. I know he's got it because I have seen it," said Gerrard. "He suffered a bit at Manchester City and then moved to Chelsea, where he hasn't played as much as he wanted but has shown flashes of brilliance.
"I think he is at an age now where he needs to settle down, get a settled club and show consistently what qualities he has got. He has said he wants to play for a big club and the stage is set for him. There will be no excuses for him. He will be playing with good players at a great club."
However, for all the tough love, Liverpool are prepared to give Sturridge his head and play him in his favoured position.
"His best position is as a central striker," Rodgers said. "I have said our 4-3-3 will become richer with the type of players we use. I think the best position for Daniel will be straight through the middle, with his pace.
"It is all about opportunity. Sometimes young players make the wrong moves. Daniel was 16 when he went to Manchester City. He left very young because he couldn't agree a deal but he then went to Chelsea, where Didier Drogba was arguably the best striker in the world. He was not going to climb in front of him.
"He has only done it at Bolton because they are the only team to have really played him. I am sure he knows as well as anyone that this could be his last chance at a massive club."
A decade after leaving Upton Park for Chelsea, Joe Cole today completed his return to West Ham after two and a half years on Merseyside that have left the midfielder wealthier but not necessarily happier.
He was paid around £80,000 a week – a salary Rodgers described as "astronomical" – and this week he reached an agreement with Liverpool that they would pay up the bulk of the 18 months that remained on his contract. Cole is expected to earn around £50,000 a week at West Ham.
Despite the fact that West Ham are a very different club to the team full of glittering talent that somehow got itself relegated in 2003, Cole will play more at Upton Park than he ever did under three managers at Anfield. His successful loan spell at Lille, who could not afford to make him a permanent signing, suggested that at 31 Cole still has something to offer his boyhood club.
Reds head to head
Goals: 38 Games: 140 Goals per game: 0.27; Four England caps, 0 goals
Goals: 39 Games: 79 Goals per game: 0.49; 60 Uruguay caps, 30 goals
*club stats = career in England only
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