Xherdan Shaqiri continues to draw mixed reaction in Switzerland’s World Cup draw with Brazil

18 June 2018

Liverpool target Xherdan Shaqiri laid on the assist as Switzerland drew 1-1 with Brazil on Sunday, but the winger was still not roundly praised.


The Reds have identified Shaqiri as a possible target this summer, and as a result supporters had a keen interest in his World Cup opener.

Deployed on the right flank against a Brazil side featuring Roma goalkeeper Alisson and ex-Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho in midfield, Shaqiri produced a varied display.

At times, the 26-year-old looked at odds with the pace of the game, but he still created the second-most chances (three) of any player behind Neymar (four), including for Steven Zuber’s equaliser.

Cancelling out Coutinho’s trademark long-range curler, Shaqiri’s low, flat corner laid an easy header on for the Hoffenheim midfielder—with Alisson strangely rooted to his line.

Shaqiri made more tackles and interceptions combined (five) than any other Swiss player apart from the suffocating Valon Behrami (six), though speaking to beIN SPORTS before the game Arsene Wenger argued that he “does not like to defend”:

“Shaqiri is not a good defender, he is a midfielder who does not like to defend, he is a No. 10.

“I see problems there for Switzerland to stop the left side of Brazil.”

This was a sentiment echoed by Gary Neville who, serving as a pundit for ITV, criticised Shaqiri ahead of kickoff in Rostov-on-Don for being “unprofessional”:

“I’m not a fan of Shaqiri to be honest with you.

“I think that was, to be fair, made worse by the fact that he distanced himself from his team-mates as Stoke.

“They were unprofessional last season Stoke, there’s no doubt, and he epitomised it.

“He could score the goal of the tournament and he could have the most amazing game, but he could also be there for three matches, do nothing and just amble and wobble around.

“To be honest with you with him, players like that I can’t have. I struggle with it.”

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)

Shaqiri is certainly a maverick, as Neville suggested, but he was far from the lethargic non-entity both he and Wenger predicted, and provided Switzerland with a key threat going forward.

As Liverpool supporters took to Facebook, Twitter and our forums during and after the game, though, the stance on the Reds’ interest in the winger remained divided.

Some highlighted his unexpected work ethic…

“Looks thinner in a skin-tight, figure-hugging, kit with Switzerland than he does in a baggy, shapeless, loose-fitting top at Stoke. Who knew?”

Anfield rd Dreamer on the forums.

Though others were less impressed with his efforts…

“Anyone watching the Brazil game and still thinks Shaqiri would be a good signing is delusional. Talk about lazy.”

Chris Antsey on Facebook.

“Busy, speedy, tricky…. then he runs out of steam and walks back.

If he can’t run himself into the ground for his country at a world cup, then I’m not convinced Klopp can get him to.”

scouseheadross on the forums.

But his delivery for Zuber’s equaliser drew widespread plaudits…

There is no indication as of yet that Liverpool will make a firm approach for Shaqiri, who is available for around £13 million due to a release clause in his Stoke contract.

He would not be signed as a first-choice option, instead as versatile cover for the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, but there are still reservations over his ability to operate within Jurgen Klopp‘s system.

Switzerland are next in action on Friday evening, when they take on Marko Grujic‘s Serbia in Kaliningrad, giving supporters another opportunity to run the rule over Shaqiri.

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