Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri looks set to move from the relegated side to last year’s Champions League runner-up Liverpool, as he has been on Merseyside for a medical.
Mainly deployed as a right winger, the Swiss has the ability to charge past defenders with great pace and power, and has been known to score beautiful goals by cutting in onto his favoured left foot.
Despite the heartbreak of relegation, Shaqiri was the top goalscorer for the Potters last season (8), as well as their joint-highest assist maker (7).
Liverpool’s decision to trigger his £13.5m release clause has left a few fans scratching their heads. Earlier in the summer, the more glamorous Nabil Fekir was linked with a move to Anfield. A relegated Stoke winger is not seen by some as adequate.
Strength in depth
However, Shaqiri will be able to offer some much needed strength in depth in a Liverpool squad that looked exposed in the league as the main team was rested for crucial Champions League nights.
Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were up there with the most feared attacking trios in Europe last season, as they notched 91 goals between them.
For matches in between European nights though, Jurgen Klopp opted to rotate his squad. The likes of Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke were thrown into the attacking three for draws against West Brom, Everton and Shaqiri’s Stoke.
The little winger will provide a better option for Klopp, as he looks to improve on Liverpool’s fourth placed finish, but there is no hiding that this is a signing that is not guaranteed to take the Reds up a level.
Concerns over consistency
For all his qualities, Shaqiri can be inconsistent. Despite playing for Basel, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, some of the biggest clubs in their respective countries, he has never hit double figures for goals in a league season.
Last season’s eight goals was his best since 2011/12, when he notched nine for Basel in the Swiss Super League. Whilst scoring goals was not necessarily the issue for the Reds over the course of the season, he has been signed for his attacking qualities and his lack of career goals should be a concern.
Some may point out that no one expected Salah to have the goal-laden season he had when he was originally signed. However, the season before, across all competitions, the Egyptian scored 19 goals for Roma. The year before, 15. There was proof of natural improvement.
Shaqiri may have thought he would never get the chance to play for another “big club,” having failed to impress with Bayern or Inter. This is now his opportunity to prove the doubters wrong and show that he belongs at the top end of the Premier League table and not the bottom.