After a week when Japan and China are about to release their latest “Netflix Asia” collaboration – it’s a movie based on North Korea’s deranged leader duelling with a giant gorilla at table tennis and karaoke on a Chinese colony island and it’s called “Kim Jong v King Kong at Ping Pong then a Sing Song in Hong Kong” ! – Real Mallorca announced officially on Tuesday that 31-year-old ex Man. City, Chelsea, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge was to be given the chance to impress after being invited to participate in pre-season training with the first team squad in Son Bibiloni.
Sturridge’s last experience at the top level was with Turkish club Trabzonspor where his contract with the Ottoman side was terminated after a betting scandal. His arrival (he’s a free agent) at Real Mallorca has provided a fair share of scepticism.
The fact that he hasn’t played in a competitive game for 18 months is the first hurdle. Getting fit is one thing but getting match fit will be a bigger hurdle. Only players who suffer serious injuries tend to spend as long out of the game as Sturridge has. He didn’t come to the island after a request from our sports director Pablo Ortells.
It turns out the player shares a representation company with one of our directors/advisers Graeme Le Saux. That in itself could cause ructions between Ortells and Le Saux as the former is supposedly solely in charge of bringing in new players. A couple of years ago, Le Saux brought in an experienced South Korean midfielder called Ki Sung-Yueng from Newcastle United, much to the chagrin of then coach Vicente Moreno.
Because he hadn’t given the nod to the South Korean’s arrival, he didn’t kick a ball until the last game of the season when he came on for the final 15 minutes. With La Liga on hold for three months due to lockdown, Ki spent the whole time holed up in his Palma apartment – on his own – before leaving for his homeland in June.
Sturridge’s continuation at Real Mallorca is all down to coach Luis Garcia Plaza. Personally, I’m sure he’s nowhere near the player he was in his Liverpool heyday, alongside Luis Suarez in 2012/13, although I’d be glad to be proved wrong ! Even if he stays, the situation won’t change. Ortells will still prioritise a midfielder and a No. 9.
Money will of course be a major contributor to whether Sturridge stays or moves on. No matter how much he’s willing to lower his salary demands, he’ll be one of the best paid as he may make Mallorca a stepping stone to move back up from under the footballing radar. If he does tick the right boxes and stays, the money spent on the two priority signings would be reduced.
Sturridge was banned in 2019 for providing his family with inside betting information (as was Trippier at At. Madrid) on his own transfer negotiations on a pending move to Sevilla – a move that broke down. Since his ban, he’s been working on his fitness regime in the gym and on the training pitch at his home in Los Angeles. His Instagram page is full of workout videos and training drills and he insists he’s fitter than he was 10 years ago. Besides his football career, he still manages his record label Dudley Road Records. He also launched a BBQ sauce called Sturr Crazy with his mother in 2016.
After the announcement of his trial at Mallorca, social media trolls have been having a field day. Many castigate the player from pillar to post, one going as far as to say “He’s injury-prone with a bad attitude, greedy and arrogant and sulks when he’s sitting on the bench and not playing.” He made headlines last year when his Pomeranian dog was stolen from his Los Angeles home. After the burglary, Sturridge offered a 30,000 quid reward for its safe return after an emotional plea to the dognappers. An LA rapper found the pooch then hit out at Sturridge for allegedly only paying a fraction of the reward.
He’s had a slump in form since he was one of England’s brightest young talents at Liverpool and it remains to be seen if he can regain a bit of that spark if he signs on the dotted line at the Son Moix. For me, the jury’s out as to whether he’ll be playing here next season. According to the website Transfer Markt his price is around 2 million euros but for now we have to wait and see the outcome.
In other news, right back Fran Gamez has left Mallorca to sign for Zaragoza in La Segunda. After four years and two promotions, the Valencian, in an emotive leaving message, thanked everybody at the club and especially the fans for making his time at Real Mallorca the best thing that ever happened to him. “I’ve played with some great people whom I will remember always.”
AND FINALLY, Aussie Barbie.
An English guy relocates to the Australian outback. He'd been living there for a few days when the phone rang.
The guy on the other end introduced himself as his neighbour, telling him he lived on a smallholding (I've heard Viagra's good for that !) 500 miles away and he would like to welcome him to Australia.
The neighbour told the English guy “Why don't you drop by on Saturday at 7:30 for a real Australian barbie ?”
“Yes, I'd like that,” replied the Englishman. “But what exactly is a real Australian barbie ?”
The neighbour told him “Well, cobber, we have as much bush tucker as we want, drink as much of the amber nectar as we want and have as much sex as we want.”
The English guy said “Sounds amazing ! What's the dress code ?”
The Aussie told him, ”Fair dinkum, mate. Wear what you like, there'll only be the two of us.”