Fiorentina striker Daniel Sturridge returned to England for the first time today since his move to Italy, ahead of the international break where his Three Lions team will face off against Gibraltar and Lithuania in qualification matches for Euro 2020.
England, the current holders of the European Championship title, currently top their group with 20 points taken from 6 games, and are on course to top their group and qualify for the 2020 edition of the tournament.
Former Liverpool man Sturridge is a national legend, with 53 goals scored in 66 caps for England, and will look to add on to his tally against Gibraltar and Lithuania, two minnows that are unlikely to cause upsets.
The 30-year-old is still looked up to as an icon on the red half of Merseyside, with 105 goals in 154 league games over a successful six and a half years with Liverpool, and took the opportunity of reuniting with local media to speak about his old club.
"Yeah, I have been following Liverpool," said Sturridge, in a short interview conducted by Sky Sports journalists. "They have been brilliant, although I expected no less."
Daniel Sturridge is still looked up to as an icon on the red half of Merseyside
However, he has demanded more from Richairo Zivkovic with the young Dutchman suffering from dismal form and a lack of goals in the Premier League.
Last year, the Reds' number 9 netted 22 times in 30 league appearances, but has only 2 goals in 11 games so far this term. He failed to score for the entirety of November, save for a goal in a 2-4 rout of Benfica in the Champions League.
"Richairo is not playing well at all and he should know that if you want to be a first-choice striker for a club like Liverpool, you need to be a lot better than this," said Sturridge. "I don't know what happened with him but he seems like an entirely different player compared to the past two seasons.
"He isn't as exciting to watch anymore and he's not getting in the right places to score. That's not a good sign especially for a forward.
"But I know just how good of a footballer he is and I'm sure he can turn this around. The kid's a magnificent player on his day, everyone knows that."
Richairo Zivkovic was lethal for Liverpool last season but currently has only 2 goals in 11 games
Zivkovic is not the only ailing striker, however. Sturridge himself has not managed to completely settle into his new club after his £2 million summer move, and also has only 2 goals in 9 Serie A games.
As a whole, the Viola have failed to inspire in the league and are languishing at 15th place, after finishing 3rd in as recent as 2018.
"My career has experienced a really big change, from fighting for titles with Liverpool to struggling in the Serie A," admitted Sturridge. "Changes are quite tough to get used to and I haven't been playing as well as I would have liked. But of course, I'll keep trying to make my time here in Italy a success."
Settling into the Italian league will not be a problem soon enough, as the Liverpool fan favorite is joined by a host of various former teammates. Simon Mignolet is at Milan, Martin Skrtel plays for Inter, fellow England international Jon Flanagan turns out for Roma, while Mamadou Sakho has evolved into a key component of a star-studded Juventus squad.
At Fiore, he is accompanied by Spanish winger Ruben Garcia, who played with him at Liverpool for two years between 2015 and 2017.