Liverpool legends Phil Thompson and Mark Lawrenson recently took a bit of stick for suggesting Jurgen Klopp might need to sign a replacement for Daniel Sturridge, who appears to be incapable of keeping himself fit.
But after the England international suffered yet another injury setback earlier this week, Liverpool fans must be wondering whether the 26-year-old - a magnificent forward when fit - is worth the hassle.
Surely it would benefit Liverpool more to have a reliable striker - capable of playing week-in, week-out - in their ranks instead.
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Klopp recently hinted that he believes Sturridge might be something of a hypochondriac - but whether that’s true or not, the Reds need a striker who can play in excess of 40 matches every season and score at least 20 goals in the process.
With Christian Benteke struggling to adjust to life at Anfield, let’s look at five potential Sturridge replacements who fit the bill.
Alexandre Lacazette | Lyon
Alexandre Lacazette was one of Europe’s hottest strikers last season, netting an impressive 31 goals in 40 appearances for Lyon.
The 24-year-old has gone off the boil a little this season - eight goals in 22 matches is an average return for a forward of his quality - but there have been signs in recent weeks that the France international has rediscovered his goalscoring touch.
Like Sturridge, Lacazette is good dribbler and you’d back him nine times out of 10 if the ball falls to his feet inside the penalty area.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Borussia Dortmund
If Liverpool are happy to shell out a bit more money, they could land themselves a player Jurgen Klopp knows very well indeed: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It was Klopp who signed the Gabon international as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund, and the 26-year-old has exceeded expectations over the past season-and-a-half at Signal Iduna Park.
Aubameyang netted 25 goals in 46 matches last season, but already has the same number of goals to his name this term and we’ve not even reached Christmas yet.
Twenty-five goals in 22 appearances is a stunning return for one of Europe’s most in-form centre-forwards.
Jamie Vardy | Leicester City
There are very few strikers in world football hotter than Jamie Vardy right now.
The England international, who turns 29 next month, leads the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award with 14 goals in 15 appearances this season and has been pivotal in Leicester City’s remarkable start to the season.
Vardy works tirelessly for 90 minutes, chases lost causes, constantly runs at defenders and, since the start of this season, has shown composure nobody - perhaps including the player himself - knew he possessed.
Worth a gamble?
Gonzalo Higuain | Napoli
Gonzalo Higuain has been on the verge of a move to the Premier League on a couple of occasions over the years - most recently in the summer of 2013, when he was tempted by a move to Arsenal - and would have little trouble adjusting to life in England’s top league.
The former Real Madrid star, who has scored 68 goals in 120 matches since joining Napoli two-and-a-half years ago, is a different type of striker to Sturridge but arguably possesses even more class than the Englishman.
At 28, Higuain is no spring chicken, but you’d back him to score plenty of goals for the Reds if Liverpool successfully lured him to Anfield in 2016.
Wilfried Bony | Manchester City
Wilfried Bony is simply too good to be spending every week on the subs’ bench at Manchester City.
The Ivory Coast international knew what he was signing up for when he agreed to leave Swansea City for the Citizens in January - the role of back-up striker behind Sergio Aguero - but he doesn’t appear to be enjoying his secondary role at the Etihad Stadium.
“It's been the worst spell of my career without question,” Bony recently told reporters, referring to his problems in front of goal and fitness issues.
Bony has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but it’ll be down to him whether or not he leaves Manchester City in 2016.
Liverpool fans: who should replace Daniel Sturridge at Anfield if he fails to overcome his fitness issues? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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