“A little spark of genius” – The lowdown on Liverpool target Xherdan Shaqiri

12 June 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri is a surprise target for Liverpool in the summer window, but do those at Stoke City believe he would be a success story at Anfield?


Shaqiri has been widely tipped to join the Reds this summer, as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster his attacking options.

The Switzerland international has a release clause of around £12 million in his Stoke contract, with many seeing this as a shrewd piece of business for Liverpool.

He is not a universally popular figure, however, with criticism over Shaqiri’s work rate and attitude often levelled at the 26-year-old—but are these accurate?

To get the lowdown on the Liverpool target, we spoke to Stoke fan David Cowlishaw (@davidcowlishaw) from the Wizards of Drivel podcast.

 

How did Shaqiri perform last season?

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 29, 2017: Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri during the FA Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For me, Shaqiri was our Player of the Year.

While that doesn’t say much at all, he was one of the few standout performers for Stoke—often digging us out of trouble single-handedly with a goal or an assist.

With Marko Arnautovic and Bojan out of the picture, Shaqiri was our sole creative force, but alas, his abilities weren’t enough to keep us in the Premier League.

 

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 29, 2017: Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri looks dejected after missing a chance against West Ham United during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Inconsistency is the main issue.

He can look world class one game and then fail to beat the first man from a corner the following week.

While last season was his best in a Stoke shirt, there were games where he did go missing—perhaps due to the hapless 10 around him.

Some doubt his attitude, but I think that’s a conclusion that’s easily jumped to.

 

Could you see Shaqiri thriving in Klopp’s system?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, May 21, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Anfield ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

It’s really hard to say.

It will be very interesting to see how he goes from one club’s talisman to, I assume, a squad player in a side as well-drilled as Klopp’s Liverpool.

He is not a man for tracking back and running around, so I’m not sure how much gegenpressing he’d be expected to do.

That said, I think he would be perfect in those moments where you need a little spark of genius to break down a stubborn defence.

 

There are question marks about his temperament—how has that been?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2016: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in action against Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He’s a bit of a sulky bugger, but he’s honestly not the ill-tempered git he’s painted as.

He was obviously frustrated at carrying a bunch of complete no-hopers last season, but still kept plugging away despite his team-mates not being up to snuff and a section of our fanbase determined to get on his back.

 

Finally, how high is his ceiling moving forward in your opinion?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 28, 2018: Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Stoke City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I must admit I was surprised that Liverpool were in for him, but think he’s definitely good enough for a European side—albeit off the bench for you, given your front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

On his day, he is a truly wonderful player to watch, and I hope he does well back at a big club.

A scorer of phenomenal goals.

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