Xherdan Shaqiri‘s role at Liverpool is expected to increase in 2019/20, with Jurgen Klopp “convinced” the winger is able to make up for a lack of signings.
The Reds have presided over a quiet summer in the transfer market, with only backup goalkeeper Adrian and youngsters Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott brought in.
Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge are among those to leave, but largely, Klopp heads into the new campaign with the same squad as he ended the last with.
Shaqiri joined Liverpool from Stoke in a £13.75 million move last year, and scored six goals and laid on five assists in 30 games in all competitions.
However, his game time decreased significantly in the second half of the campaign, playing just 81 minutes in the Premier League over five appearances between the start of February and the end of May.
There was speculation over a possible exit this summer, while a calf injury restricted his role in pre-season, but according to The Athletic‘s James Pearce, Klopp is “convinced there’s more, much more to come” this term.
Pearce explains that Shaqiri’s diminished role in 2018/19 “came down to tactics and systems rather than any reflection on the player’s attitude or his relationship with the manager.”
And he described the off-ball requirements needed from a winger in Klopp’s system as “a constant theme during their discussions,” adding that the No. 23 “didn’t rock the boat” when left out.
Interestingly, Pearce concludes that Shaqiri is “one of the main reasons why the manager decided not to bolster his attacking options in the transfer market.”
“For a first year at a new club, I was really happy,” the 27-year-old is quoted as saying after the Community Shield, having scored a penalty in the shootout defeat.
“OK, in the second half of the season I didn’t play as much as I would have liked but that’s football.
“You have to accept the decisions made by the coach and concentrate on showing him what you can do in training.
“I have to work really hard and try to make it very difficult for the coach to leave me out.”
Shaqiri added that he is “not surprised” Liverpool have made no big-name signings—despite links with the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Bruno Fernandes and even a revived move for Nabil Fekir.
He is “ready to have a big impact” this season, and explains he is “giving everything every day” to make that happen.
It can certainly be argued that Shaqiri was hard done by with his marginalisation in the first half of 2019, but the hope is he can now kick on and take up a more focal role this season.
There is little denying his talent, and the Swiss can often be overlooked due to the relatively low fee paid to bring him to Anfield.
If he is able to step up and provide top-level cover for the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, he could further prove this outlay to be a bargain.