Before the rumours started, I was more a Shakira fan than a Shaqiri lover, but I’ve stepped back a little and had a good think. Xherdan Shaqiri’s imminent move (it might be done before you read this) ticks so many boxes for Liverpool. Here’s why…
Shaqiri was by far the best player for Stoke City last season in the Premier League. I guess you could say that wasn’t a hard feat with the lack of quality that was in their squad. It was a poor season for The Potters at the Bet 365 Stadium (don’t you just love sponsorship), with the one shining light being the Yugoslavian born, Swiss international.
He finished top scorer with eight goals last season, but he grew. As the season progressed, he was ever so frustrated with the lack of quality of the players around him and came out in public at one point and stated the fact. It didn’t go down well with his fellow professionals, but I guess he was only stating the truth even though coming out in public is not, in my opinion, the correct way to do it.
Towards the end of the season if you stopped Shaqiri then you went a long way to stopping toothless Stoke.
Whenever, wherever he’s needed
At £13.5 million, the alleged clause in his contract, it’s surely a gamble that is worth taking. Will he break into the forward line of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah? Probably not. But with a packed fixture list, Shaqiri will get his fair share of game time in the domestic cups, and possibly a number of league and Champions League games, mainly coming off the bench or covering for tiredness and/or injuries.
He will add a little bit more depth and quality to a squad that has been strengthened by the midfield arrivals of Brazilian international Fabinho from Monaco and the long-awaited closure of the Naby Keita saga.
The lad has had a bad press from supporters in general, with many unfair chants about his physique. But he was the one player at Stoke that would get you off your seat in excitement. It always tickles me when the chants of ‘You Fat Bastard’ rang round a ground, then when he removed his shirt he was ripped to shreds. I wish I was that fat…
Improvement in consistency the key
His best position is in the Salah role, cutting in from the right to get a shot away with a wand of a left foot. Less of a goal scorer than Salah and more of a provider, but with a work ethic, that was not always seen, that will fit into Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy. Even though he doesn’t relish tracking back (similar to Salah), he does have a will to win and this can be improved upon.
Shaqiri never seems to score anything but screamers. Top corner this, top corner that, that’s the vision I have of his goals. The player, who was previously at Basel, Bayern Munich, and Inter Milan, can progress under Klopp and become a bargain signing. It’s his consistency that would come under scrutiny.
He can be a match winner, maybe from the start or even coming off the bench late on when we need someone to unlock a stubborn defence parking the bus for a goalless draw. One-on-one he’ll draw the fullback, do a trick, faint one way, faint the other and deliver a telling cross or whip one towards goal.
Shaqiri also had a decent World Cup, including a late winner versus Serbia, until Switzerland’s involvement ended at the hands of Sweden in the last 16 stage. Being one of the more exciting Swiss players that was set-up to be hard to beat rather than full of flair.
So worth a punt? For the price, his age (26), and the undoubted talent he has it’s a no-brainer. It won’t go down as a massive signing in monetary terms and I wouldn’t class it as a cheaper alternative to Nabil Fekir, because I have a feeling that one isn’t dead yet.