Daniel Sturridge has less than a year to convince Liverpool he is worthy of a new contract after the club opted to delay talks regarding an extension until the end of the season. Manager Jurgen Klopp is unconvinced the England striker can be a regular source of goals for the Merseysiders and wants to wait until the campaign had ended before agreeing to Sturridge being offered fresh terms.
Since arriving from Chelsea in January 2013 Sturridge has netted 62 goals in just 123 appearances; a spell which has been continually dogged by injury. He signed a new five-year deal in 2014 but despite entering the period when clubs would typically open talks over an extension, the Reds are planning to delay such discussions, according to The Mirror.
The former Manchester City youngster has scored once in four appearances in all competitions this term and played the full 90 minutes against Burnley – the first top flight game he has completed since May 2016 - but was unable to inspire Liverpool to victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Sturridge, 28, currently earns £150,000-a-week and will be under pressure to increase his goal tally – he netted just seven last term - significantly to justify being awarded a contract on the same, or even improved terms. Though Divock Origi has been loaned to Wolfsburg, the presence of Roberto Firmino and Dominic Solanke will make regular starts hard to come by.
An improvement in his club form is also required for Sturridge to win a place in Gareth Southgate's England squad for next summer's World Cup finals in Russia. Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe are also competing for a berth and Sturridge's failure to play in either of the recent internationals against Malta and Slovakia means he is on the backfoot.
Following a poor 2016-17 campaign, Sturridge had been linked with a move away from Liverpool but Klopp appeared to signal an intent to play him regularly after stating he was in the "best condition" since the German arrived at the club. He therefore appeared destined to start the season injury-free but a hamstring problem suffered in the Audi Cup meant he missed the opening day draw at Watford.
Upon his return he netted his first goal of the campaign against Arsenal and though he is yet to add to that tally he insists he feel "as sharp as ever". "It's the nature of football - sometimes you feel great, sometimes you don't feel great," Sturridge said in August, according to the Liverpool Echo.
"You put your body on the line every time you go on the football pitch and you push yourself to your limit. You don't want to hold back, you want to push yourself to your limit. I feel as sharp as ever, I'm ready to go. I had a great pre-season, felt really good and I'm looking forward to the future to be honest with you. It's the best I've felt for a long time."