Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted striker Daniel Sturridge is struggling for form at Anfield. The 27-year-old star has been in and out of the Liverpool side under Klopp – and the manager has confessed that Sturridge is in the midst of a difficult period in his career.
Sturridge scored 21 Premier League goals during the 2013-14 season, but his strike-rate has fallen markedly since then, owing to a combination of injuries and team selection. Sturridge has also been asked to perform a more defensive-minded role since Klopp's arrival at Anfield in October 2015.
But the German boss has backed Sturridge to come through his recent struggles. "It is not easy," Klopp said of Sturridge's current situation, according to The Times.
"For most of his life, football has been so easy because he is so skilled. I cannot work only with players who are 100 per cent confident, in their best shape with everything, 100 per cent fit. If I could only work with them, I would be standing here alone.
"Every player struggles with this or this; a little problem here, a little problem there. Daniel Sturridge is an outstanding player. There is no doubt about this."
Sturridge was substituted during Liverpool's drab 0-0 draw against Manchester United earlier this week and Klopp confessed the striker is struggling to recapture his best form. "We had a game against Manchester United and, yes, it was not easy for him. We didn't play well, he didn't play with 100 per cent confidence – we can all see this," the Liverpool manager shared.
"Daniel is hard working, he is fit. He is doing what all players have to do in the moments like this when it doesn't quite go for you; he is keeping working. So I'm fine with it."
But Klopp also stressed the importance of keeping Sturridge's recent struggles in some sort of context, observing that even the best players are vulnerable to slumps in their form. "It is a very useful moment in his career," he said.
"With big names such as Lewandowski, there were times when he didn't score. With Gerd Muller, there were games he didn't score. You look back on his career and he scored 600 times but there were moments when he didn't score. It is about handling situations like this, and not making a big thing about it."