In what turned out to be a forgettable season for the Stoke City faithful, Xherdan Shaqiri was the sole shining light.
With Championship football not in his plans, the Switzerland international will be leaving Staffordshire this summer. Liverpool currently lead the charge.
Although Jurgen Klopp suffered a blow in pursuit of Nabil Fekir, the ideal alternative could have fallen perfectly into their laps; at a fraction of the price, too…
With a relatively low release clause, believed to be around £12million, Shaqiri could come in and add more firepower to an already potent attack. The 26-year-old, who has plied his trade for FC Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, knows exactly what’s required when turning out for a European giant. That experience will serve him well – should a move to Anfield come to fruition.
Speaking of familiarity, Shaqiri knows the Premier League like the back of his hand. Those three-years in Stoke-on-Trent could be the all-important factor for Liverpool. He’ll need no settling in period. Instead, the Swiss will seamlessly slot into a free-flowing front-line.
Sure, he may not start every single week, particularly in games where the Merseyside club intend to deploy a midfield three (as that’ll leave one less place in the team for attackers). He’ll get his fair share of minutes, though. Liverpool will undoubtedly be trying to fight it out on all fronts; including another crack at the Champions League whip. Who knows, if they’d have had the individual brilliance that Shaqiri will bring, perhaps they’d have managed to make it six in Kiev…
His ability to carve out openings single-handedly is an underrated commodity within our sport. He’s capable of producing the spectacular when the lights are at their brightest. See the scintillating strike above, that was in a European Championship game, no less. Shaqiri ended up winning the Goal of the Tournament Award for his efforts. Rightly so.
When games are tight, having the ability to call on a Shaqiri is essential. When teams sit back and defend for 90 minutes, it can sometimes be tough to break them down with quick, incisive passing. Having an attacking talent with the creativity, instinct and ingenuity can be potentially game-changing.
Yes, it may not be the big-name signing that Liverpool fans will purr about, instead, Shaqiri does a job. Heck, even if they go out and managed to sign, say a Fekir-esque player, I’d still bring in the FC Basel youth product.
It’s not just what he does with the ball at his feet that makes him so important, either. He has that mean streak to him, which I’d argue that Liverpool have lacked since Luis Suarez left Anfield. Need someone to rough someone up? Shaqiri’s willing to do that. In high-intensity, physical derby matches against Everton or huge rivalry clashes with Manchester United, this lad will stand up and be counted.
Injuries will happen. See Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. More than ever, you need to have a deep squad, particularly if you’re aiming to challenge for multiple trophies. The word I’d use to describe this impending deal is astute. Heck, Liverpool could certainly do worse…