Injury is something that has impacted heavily on even the finest of footballers.
Think Marco van Basten, Ronaldo and Michael Owen. Ballon d’Or winners who could have achieved so much more had they not been so unfortunate.
However, these three are actually somewhat lucky. They are still remembered as legends of the game.
Some players never managed to make it that far.
The likes of Jack Wilshere and Alexandre Pato should be considered world superstars at this stage.
Instead, they have suffered stop-start careers which look set to stutter to a halt.
Over the last 15 years, Liverpool have had a number of players who fall into this category.
They were either great before signing and never got a fair chance at Anfield, or showed glimpses of their talent between spells on the sideline.
The ultimate list of “what could have been”, we take a look at four Liverpool players whose times at Anfield were clouded by injuries.
The term ‘fan favourite’ is one that is often thrown around in football.
The likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez were the best and most-talked about players in the Liverpool teams of this century, but there is another tier of less-spoken about individuals adored by the Kop.
The likes of Momo Sissoko, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt fall into this category.
Very good players who the niche fans chose as their favourite for different periods of time.
Their passion for the club and underrated ability meant that they never went unnoticed by the die-hards and they went under the radar in the general football media.
Daniel Agger certainly belonged in this ‘cult-hero’ category.
The Dane always gave 110% to the team in his eight years on Merseyside.
His affection for the club is so great that he has ‘YNWA’ tattoed on his knuckles.
In fact, there was one thing that stopped Agger from going from cult-hero to a recognisable world-class centre-half.
Injuries. And lots of them.
In fact, 2012/13 was his only injury-free campaign since his first full season at Anfield. His form saw Barcelona bid £17 million for him, according to the Daily Mail.
The Dane had everything needed to be a world-class defender.
He was quick, tall and strong. He combined fearlessness with elegance.
Agger was not dissimilar to Virgil van Dijk.
His left foot was fantastic, proving useful in the pass and also when shooting from distance. He scored some true thunderbolts in his time.
He complimented the more aggressive Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel superbly.
It is a pity that injury meant that he was never held to the same regard as a Nemanja Vidic or a Vincent Kompany.
A fully-fit Daniel Agger was on-par with both.
Until Andy Robertson came around, left-back had been a problem position for Liverpool for quite some time.
There had not been a truly outstanding player in the position since maybe even Alan Kennedy, with John Arne Riise coming closest.
Even he split opinion at times.
Perhaps the most talented of that crop of left-backs was Brazilian Fabio Aurelio.
Best remembered for his pair of free-kicks against Man United and Chelsea in 2009, Aurelio was much more than a set-piece specialist.
Holding dual citizenship of Brazil and Italy, Aurelio combined the football styles of both nations. He added Brazilian flair and technique to Italian defensive steel.
He was capable of dictating play from left-back, much like Trent Alexander-Arnold does from the opposite flank in modern times.
Unfortunately, Aurelio spent more time on the sidelines due to injury than he did on the pitch.
His constant struggles meant that the likes of Emiliano Insua got more game time than he should have.
A fit Aurelio would have also eradicated the need to sign the likes of Paul Konchesky and Jose Enrique.
It is a shame that he is not recognised by fans and pundits alike for the fine player that he was.
In fact, Steven Gerrard called him a “top player” on Gary Neville’s Soccerbox, so if he’s good enough for Stevie, he’s good enough to be included in this list.
Aquilani is by far the most unknown quantity in this list.
He made the fewest appearances of all four players, never really showing what he was capable of at all.
In fact, he was injured when he signed from Roma in 2009, not making his debut until October.
This set the tone for his career at Anfield, and the Xabi Alonso replacement never got off the ground.
He did put in some decent performances, however, and clearly had fantastic ability on the ball.
Aquilani finished the season with a goal and six assists in 18 games, which is actually a very good record considering how poor Liverpool were that year.
He suffered when Rafa Benitez was sacked in the summer. The former Roma man was not rated highly by Roy Hodgson.
Aquilani was contracted to the club until 2012 but did not play any more competitive games for Liverpool. He spent two seasons on loan at Juventus and Milan respectively.
If only he could have stayed injury-free and stayed for that second season, perhaps he could have survived under Hodgson and proved his worth.
He never did recover the form that saw Liverpool pay £17 million for him, and he retired in 2018.
This is probably the most regrettable inclusion of the lot.
Quick, intelligent and a superb finisher, Daniel Sturridge had the potential to be a world-class striker.
The sheer brilliance of Luis Suarez in 2013/14 means that Sturridge’s season went somewhat under the radar.
The Englishman scored 21 goals and got 7 assists in just 29 games.
His dancing celebration became popular amongst fans, and his goals even more so.
As seen by the fact that he only played 29 games, injuries were an issue even in his early Liverpool career.
Sturridge seemed to be made of glass at times.
The next four seasons saw him make a combined 30 starts.
Just when he got back from an injury, he’d pick up another one.
He never seemed like a Jurgen Klopp player, but the accumulation of knocks meant that he lost his pace, in turn meaning that Klopp fancied him less and less as the seasons passed.
While Steven Gerrard famously felt that the former Chelsea man could have played through the pain at times, there can be no doubts that some of Sturridge’s injuries were detrimental to his career.
Yet, even without the burst of pace, he kept his striker’s instinct.
Even in his final season, there was a feeling that he was still Liverpool’s best finisher.
If you were to put your house on one player to convert a chance, it would be Daniel Sturridge.
If only he was capable of showing it for a longer stretch.
Daniel Sturridge, perhaps the ultimate ‘what could have been’.