Suarez given wide berth to make way for Sturridge
Published 04/01/2013 | 05:00
Luis SuArez will be asked to adapt his role to accommodate the arrival of Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool.
Liverpool boos Brendan Rodgers says Sturridge's desire to play as a central striker will be granted at his new club, and it is Suarez – who has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season – who will shift positions.
Suarez has carried virtually all the goalscoring burden since the start of the season, leading the line expertly, playing as both a target man and creator. He has scored 13 more goals than the nearest challenger in the Liverpool team.
Rodgers has been desperate to construct a team to assist his star striker, not rely on him. He believes Suarez can be just as effective playing in a deeper role in 'the hole', similar to where he played alongside Andy Carroll during his first 18 months at Anfield, or even in a wider position as he did for Ajax before joining Liverpool.
It promises to be an ambitious, highly attacking formation, with Sturridge likely to offer the first glimpse of Rodgers' intentions when he makes his debut against Mansfield on Sunday.
Rodgers insisted there was no question of Sturridge stipulating where he must play during negotiations for his £12m transfer, but he agreed with the 23-year-old that he is most effective through the middle rather than out wide, where he was regularly used at Chelsea.
"His best position is as a central striker," Rodgers said. "There is not one way to play 4-3-3. You can have one up and two wingers, a floating nine like Luis Suarez, or you can have one like Daniel Sturridge playing centrally, with two in and around him playing narrow and full-backs bombing on.
"The principles of your game are based on your players. I think for Daniel his best position will be straight through the middle with his pace."
Rodgers said that the strategy had already been discussed with Suarez, who knows the impact Sturridge's arrival will have on his position within the side.
"Luis will play for the common good of the team," the manager said. "I spoke with Luis at length on this subject a number of times. This has been the plan for a few months. When he played at Ajax he played in behind the central striker as a No 10, in between the lines.
"He also played as a reverse winger from the left side. He wasn't quite out wide, he was tucked in round the corner.
"Wherever he plays he will make the same movements and he will find the space because he is a world-class player. It is not a problem at all. It is never a problem having top players so don't talk about problems with players. We need good players."
Rodgers could have signed Sturridge last summer on a similar deal, but admitted he wanted time to assess if the player had the right mentality for a permanent move.
Since Liverpool agreed a fee with Chelsea over a month before the transfer window opened, it enabled Rodgers to make a thorough evaluation, meeting the player to satisfy himself he had the appetite to succeed. It was during those conversations that Rodgers was convinced it was the right deal.
"You need to look in the player's eyes and see if they have that hunger," Rodgers said. "He is coming off the back of being at a big club but one where he hasn't played. He is coming here with everything to prove.
"There is always a risk and doubts about any player. I have spoken to enough people who have worked with Daniel and you always have to do your homework.
"You are never going to be 100pc sure they'll succeed, but you have that bit of thinking time to look around and see how they are going to fit in.
"Any player coming here has to buy into the culture of this football club and has to come in for the common good of the team. That is vital and there was never any issue there.
"He is 23 years old and he is going to come in with wonderful talent. You put him in the group and you get stature and presence and there are not many quicker than him."
Rodgers believes Sturridge's career stalled at Chelsea because he joined at the wrong time. "Sometimes young players make the wrong moves. I don't mean the wrong move in terms of club, but the wrong football move.
"He went to Chelsea where Didier Drogba was arguably the best striker in the world, so he was not going to climb in front of him. You go in at 20 years of age and hope you are going to progress, but he has only done it at Bolton because they are the only team that played him." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Goals per game: 0.27
Four England caps (0 goals)
Goals per game: 0.49
60 Uruguay caps (30 goals)
*Club stats = Career in England only