After a rocky first half of 2015 was punctuated by the announcement that Liverpool’s most renowned player, Steven Gerrard, was to leave the club at the end of the season, manager Brendan Rodgers seemed to suggest owners FSG must sanction some big-name transfers.
Rodgers declared: “A large part of our squad is young players but there’s no doubt that if you want to take steps forward, you need to sign ready-made players.”
“The model at the football club is clear in that the owners want to bring in young players in order to develop and create them into world class players…If you’re going to keep progressing, you also need those ready-made players.”
— Guglielmo Cannavale (@GugliCannavale) January 2, 2015
Shaqiri fits that criteria, and has been linked with a Merseyside move in January.
A move from Munich to Liverpool this January would suit Shaqiri, and could propel the Reds to a successful 2015.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) April 17, 2013
A short, stocky attacking midfielder, Shaqiri is an interesting prospect and one that would improve Liverpool’s squad significantly.
Able to play across all three attacking midfield positions, as a wide player, an inside forward or as an attacking No. 10, Shaqiri is supremely versatile.
In nine Bundesliga games this season, Shaqiri has scored one goal and made two assists, at a rate of a hand in one goal every 113 minutes.
Raheem Sterling goal/assist every 215 mins.
Steven Gerrard goal/assist every 262 mins.
Philippe Coutinho goal/assist every 306 mins.#LFC
— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) January 4, 2015
Shaqiri’s main attribute is his confident, unpredictable dribbling style, and the midfielder prefers to take on his man, typically with great success; this is aided by an outstanding strength boosted by his physicality.
However, Shaqiri is a well-rounded player, who can score a wide range of goals from poached finishes, to great long shots and accurate dead balls, as evidenced by his hat-trick in Switzerland’s 3-0 victory over Honduras at the World Cup.
Furthermore, despite Shaqiri’s relative youth at 23 years old, the forward boasts vast experience both for club and country.
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) January 2, 2015
With former club FC Basel, Shaqiri helped his side to victory in three successive Swiss Super League titles; with Bayern, Shaqiri has won two successive Bundesliga titles and the 2012/13 Champions League.
As Switzerland’s ‘Alpine Messi’, Shaqiri serves as his country’s inspiration, and has made 38 appearances for the Swiss senior side, scoring 12 goals.
Shaqiri and Xhaka – Switzerland's Best Footballers: Xherdan Shaqiri was voted Credit Suisse Player of the Year –… http://t.co/54je9Qhf
— Credit Suisse (@CreditSuisse) May 30, 2012
Shaqiri and Sommer: Switzerland's Best Footballers: Xherdan Shaqiri was voted Credit Suisse Player of the Year at… http://bit.ly/qasxuq
— Credit Suisse (@CreditSuisse) August 9, 2011
Shaqiri was named the Swiss FA’s Credit Suisse Player of the Year for both 2012 and 2013, underlining his importance to the side.
This experience, of different styles and systems, and an excellent level of coaching from the likes of Pep Guardiola and Ottmar Hitzfeld, would see Shaqiri blend into Rodgers’ Liverpool side swiftly and adeptly.
In an overview of his managerial career, Hitzfeld claimed “I realised that although I had my own philosophy, I didn’t have the necessary players. I changed my own philosophy…You need to be flexible.”
— BUNDESLIGA (@Bundesliga_DE) November 11, 2014
With Switzerland this was focussed on a high intensity, pressure-based system highlighting the work rate of midfielders Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler and relying on the flair of Shaqiri.
Guardiola’s style at Munich was analysed in 2013/14 by the Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke: “The whole team plays further up the pitch, pressing hard from the front to win the ball back as quickly as possible, with a brisker tempo in possession as well.”
These are both reminiscent in style to Rodgers’ Liverpool, suggesting Shaqiri could flourish.
Shaqiri would do so with a motive.
A Point to Prove
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) January 1, 2015
The main reason behind Shaqiri’s desire to leave Bayern this January is presumably a lack of game time with the Bundesliga club.
I live in present… Not in future….;-)
— Xherdan Shaqiri (@XS_11official) July 15, 2014
This summer tweet came after Bayern director of sport discussed Shaqiri’s talents, claiming “Shaqiri is able to play in various positions and he is an important player for the future of this club.”
Shaqiri’s position in the side hasn’t improved this season, with Shaqiri making just three of his league appearances as a starter.
Marginalised at Bayern and looking for a move, Shaqiri has a point to prove at his next club.
This could play into Rodgers’ hands at Liverpool, who has displayed a restorative touch during his time as manager of the club.
Philippe Coutinho is another player who was in a similar position when he too signed in 2013, with his career stagnating at Inter Milan, having made just 10 appearances for the club in the first half of 2012/13 before his transfer—like Shaqiri, only three of these came as a starter.
Both have thrived given the confidence that Rodgers’ faith has instilled in them, and they are now both key players at Liverpool.
While this summer’s signing of Mario Balotelli hasn’t quite displayed the same hallmarks, this still serves as evidence of Rodgers’ intention.
Overall, Liverpool is an excellent platform for talented young players to reaffirm their talents.