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Pep Lijnders lays out expectations for Xherdan Shaqiri after “superb” maiden 2020 start

Pep Lijnders commended Xherdan Shaqiri for his “superb” showing at Lincoln ahead of an expected outing against Arsenal, after he was asked to play a different position.

The third round League Cup tie at Sincil Bank was only Shaqiri’s third outing this calendar year and his first start since the Club World Cup semi-final last December.

Injury and form saw the Swiss international overlooked by Jurgen Klopp for the majority of the last season but he marked his first minutes of the 2020/21 campaign in style with a stunning free-kick and energetic display in midfield.

It was a surprise position or the 28-year-old to occupy, but having shown a tireless work ethic and the ability to link the midfield to the attack he earned widespread praise.

And with more minutes set to come his way in another much-changed lineup against Arsenal, Lijnders took time to laud Shaqiri and open up on the demands placed upon him when he is given the nod to feature.

“I think he had a superb game against Lincoln, in a different position to he’s used to playing,” Lijnders explained. “So that makes it even more recognisable and even more great.

LINCOLN, ENGLAND - Thursday, September 24, 2020: Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri scores the first goal from a free-kick during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Lincoln City FC and Liverpool FC at Sincil Bank. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Also for himself, after such a long time, to start, to play, to play in this manner.

“If we expect one thing from Shaq it’s that he tries to dictate the game, that he always searches for attacking solutions, that he uses his technique to be involved in the buildup and in creating.

“So I’m really happy for him that he could start like this and show his desire on the ball, his drive, and especially without any injuries—it’s, of course, a very difficult period for him—coming through this game.”

While Shaqiri’s name continues to be linked with a switch elsewhere should a suitable offer come Liverpool’s way, he went some way in showing that he can provide an option for Klopp this season at Lincoln last week.

The challenge, for now, is to remain fit and available and ensure he offers a solution in attack and uses his experience and technique to help the Reds dictate games, as Lijnders nodded to.

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