It was supposed to be the dream move from Stoke City to Liverpool but it hasn’t followed the script. For a stretch of games last fall, it looked as if Liverpool had gotten a decent bargain from Stoke City – especially if you consider that the £13m spent on Xherdan Shaqiri is peanuts in today’s market. Even better, his brace against Manchester United alone was worth it in the eyes of many supporters.
But all that is in the past. As the season wore on, Shaqiri’s star faded, and he dropped down the pecking order. He started the season just as he ended it: firmly behind Divock Origi as a first-choice attacking substitute
With the injury to the Belgian striker, Shaqiri probably thought he’d be in line for a little more playing time. Indeed, he has been…to the tune of a combined 9 minutes against Newcastle and Napoli as per Whoscored. So, perhaps we can sympathize when he laments his lack of playing time to the media.
“It is not easy for me, of course I am a little downbeat,” Shaq said in an interview with Teleclub. “You have to be able to handle that and you have to accept it, I was always still in the squad.
“You cannot ask the coach to play every match.”
Of course, there’s a big difference between playing “every match” and playing “meaningful minutes” every match.”
Quite the ironic twist to it all is that the Swiss international still claimed he was happy at the club and was happy with his manager Jurgen Klopp.
“I feel very comfortable here. We have a great coach, a great club. There’s a family feel,” he said, as cited by Liverpool Echo
What the stats say
Considering the 27-year-old has barely had any game time to be conclusive on, we mirror his performances from last season and see if his numbers justify him a place in the starting lineup.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s 2018/19 season was a true reflection of the 27-year old’s career.
A hot, promising start with some crucial contributions — not unlike his time at Basel and first season at Bayern Munich — was followed up by a thoroughly unimpressive second half to the campaign.
He struggled to get on the pitch at all, and failed to make much of an impact when he did — mirroring his final days at Bayern, his short-lived spell at Inter, and his uninspiring time at an eventually relegated Stoke.
Despite that, the Swiss international did manage six goals and five assists in all competitions as per WhoScored. In actual fact, that tally would mean asides the duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Shaqiri was the joint third-highest performer in the Liverpool squad alongside Divock Origi with six goals but a lesser one assist.
The letdown to those numbers being that Shaqiri amassed a total of 1785 minutes which was more than 1000 minutes that of Origi at a mere 585 minutes (via WhoScored).
Origi’s title of the super sub and scoring when the club really needed a goal (particularly that night in Anfield) of course gives the Belgian a special edge over Shaqiri as an all-round impact player.
One thing is certain though, while Shaqiri might not be a first-team candidate due to his lack of physicality, pace and energy off the ball, he should surely be considered as the ideal backup/replacement when a void appears in the Liverpool frontline.
Although Shaqiri has struggled for game time this season, It shouldn’t be much of a concern because of how many fixtures Liverpool will have to play between now and Christmas.
With Liverpool’s upcoming League Cup fixture against MK Dons soon ahead, Shaqiri will surely get an opportunity to stake a claim for one of the advanced midfield roles.
The situation was similar to the one when he first arrived at Anfield, he had to be patient for a consecutive run of games in the team.
Given that football can change so quickly with injuries and form, it’s evident we might see a lot more of him as the season progresses.