If Sturridge came out guns blazing to impress Klopp and save his floundering Anfield career this summer, then the same cannot be said for his fellow forward Dominic Solanke.
Sturridge showed that despite his ceaseless run of cruel injuries, he still has wonderful technical ability. His finishing remains sharp and he showed that there was actually something to salvage in his Reds career, just as it looked at it’s natural end.
By contrast, it was a frustrating summer for the likable Solanke. The usual poor finishing was on display too often in pre-season and you couldn’t help but feel that games simply passed him by, with the striker struggling to add any real influence.
With so much at stake this season you cannot help but feel that his chances in the first team will be extremely restricted. The Champions League draw saw Liverpool matched with three excellent sides and Chelsea at home in the League Cup will need a strong XI on the night if we are to progress. Already, the chips are stacking up against Solanke’s chances. However, things may not necessarily be all doom and gloom for him, he may yet have a part to play.
In fairness to the England International, his game time at Liverpool has been mainly limited to substitute appearances. Less than six hundred minutes in the league is hardly a reasonable run to judge him on. A striker needs playing time to build momentum and confidence.
With the quality of the players ahead of him it is little wonder that he has been left catching splinters on the bench, waiting for chances to impress.
It’s fair to say that he hasn’t always made the most of his minutes on the pitch and that his finishing looks erratic at times, however there are signs that there is a quality striker in Solanke.
He often arrives in the correct positions in the box, showing an awareness which can be lacking in other players. His record for the Under 23s is outstanding, with sixteen scored in twenty-seven games. Its a return, albeit against reduced quality, which is no doubt encouraging sign that he can find the net when given an extended run.
He is also a big presence up front and has shown real strength at times in his career. A hold up striker isn’t integral to our style of play under Klopp, but in certain circumstances he might do well in 4-2-3-1 with so much creativity behind him.
In possession of a footballer’s brain, a decent touch and great attitude, he wouldn’t be the first dodgy finisher to win a place in our starting eleven. The Kop also love an underdog story…
The feeling amongst the fan base, is that Solanke is simply not good enough in the long run to make it at Liverpool. The required quality to make it with Klopp at the helm, is higher than at any other point in the past decade.
The club has to be ruthless, not charitable. Solanke is young and developing, yes, but with Ojo, Woodburn and Wilson all departing this summer for regular game time, the message couldn’t be clearer about his own first team prospects.
He faces an up hill battle to break in to the first team on a regular basis, unless there is a significant improvement in his game.
That being said, Klopp has already hinted that his squad players will have an imminent role to play. The club has had far worse options on the bench in previous seasons and could look to the former Chelsea forward to come on and give the his teammates some much needed respite at certain intervals this season. The manager also likes working with youngsters and has a pedigree for turning unfashionable names into superstars, there may yet be hope for the forward.
Back up to the first team though might smack too much of deja vu for Solanke and may he may ultimately force an exit to get some much needed game time and goals. If he can manage to find the net a few times this season though it may well give Klopp something to consider with Sturridge out of contract next summer.