With Xherdan Shaqiri firing for Switzerland at the Euros, Liverpool’s stance on the future of their No. 23 could shift as they find themselves in a win-win situation.
Seven Liverpool players were called up to represent their countries at the Euros, but few were guaranteed starring roles.
Andy Robertson is an exception as captain of Scotland, but Diogo Jota has been left to play second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo, Thiago has been strangely overlooked and Jordan Henderson‘s fitness has cost him.
When it comes to Shaqiri, though, the Swiss side is built around the stocky sharpshooter; literally, given he has been fielded as a No. 10, the Liverpool forward has taken a central role.
As Vladimir Petkovic’s side cling to hopes of progressing to the last 16, Shaqiri has been their leading light, breaking records in the process.
His brace in the Group A closer against Turkey cemented him as Switzerland’s all-time top scorer in major tournaments, with seven goals.
He is one of only four players to score at the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016, 2018 World Cup and now Euro 2020, while during that time he has directly contributed to over 50 percent of his country’s goals.
Shaqiri comes alive for Switzerland, and there is something truly endearing about a player willing and capable of carrying the hopes of a nation on his broad shoulders.
It is stark, therefore, how his roles for club and country contrast.
This summer, Shaqiri is widely reported to be up for sale, with Liverpool looking to raise funds for further additions beyond £36 million centre-back Ibrahima Konate.
But that does his quality a disservice, as even given sparse opportunities last season, Shaqiri still proved himself a game-changer.
Given five minutes off the bench against Aston Villa in April, he had four touches of the ball and completed three passes, but still managed to create two chances including the cross that led to Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s late winner.
Unlike for Switzerland, Shaqiri feeds off scraps for Liverpool and often makes it work.
This, paired with his influential displays at the Euros, could form a convincing argument to keep him on board beyond the summer transfer window.
If he is willing to remain a squad player under Jurgen Klopp, he would be a useful option – particularly as he defied perceptions of being injury prone in 2020/21, having made the matchday squad for 37 of a possible 53 games.
There may be reservations over his work off the ball, but the eye test suggests he has attuned to Klopp’s demands relatively well, particularly in the No. 10 position.
It would be difficult to identify a player of Shaqiri’s calibre and unique skillset in the transfer market, and especially one who is content with a marginal role.
However, the other line of thinking is that by catching the eye at the Euros, Liverpool may be in a better position to maximise value for a player now in the final two years of his contract.
Shaqiri will turn 30 in October, and there will be no better time to cash in, provided the interest is there.
Previously, the likes of Roma, CSKA Moscow, Sevilla and Newcastle have all expressed an interest in a player with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Liverpool on his CV, while he is regular fodder for the back pages in Turkey.
The suitors could increase if he continues to shine at this summer’s tournament, which may, in turn, drive his price up – or at least, in a fragile financial climate, allow the Reds to secure their asking price.
It is a win-win scenario for Liverpool, therefore: keep him, and Klopp will be able to call upon a rare talent boosted by a strong run of form at the Euros; sell, and they can capitalise on his displays against Wales, Italy and Turkey when talks begin.
Though it is not in the club’s modus operandi to sign players off the back of a handful of performances at a major tournament, strangely the same still cannot be said of a host of clubs at the top table.
A big decision may be required, then, and Shaqiri himself could be given the casting vote as he hits a crossroads in a captivating career.