When Jurgen Klopp made the decision to sign Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City, he knew what he was getting. The Liverpool boss said it best himself when he went to great lengths to extol his new acquisition’s virtues.
“I think the English phrase to explain the decision to sign Xherdan is a ‘no-brainer’.
“I know him well from his time in Switzerland and especially Germany – I have been a long-time admirer. But the added bonus now is that he knows the Premier League and what it takes to perform in this uniquely intense environment,” the Liverpool boss stated in a press conference shortly after the Switzerland international’s signing.
“He has speed and ability, has the right amount of arrogance on the football pitch, real bravery to want the ball and influence things.
“He is someone who makes a big difference to the squad and team, because he can fit in so many positions in our system,” he concluded.
The 26-year-old is one of the most explosive players in the Premier League. Therefore, joining a side like Liverpool that plays all out attacking football makes this nearly a match made in heaven. The only question is why is his manager reluctant in giving him regular playing time?
It’s still too early to criticize the Liverpool manager for holding back a player that can add much impetus to the Reds. That’s especially so when one considers the fact that the team is well stocked with quality players. Shaqiri’s favorite position is on. the wing. But as his manager has stated, he can be deployed even in the middle.
Klopp plays a 4-3-3 system that features Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as the front three. The African duo usually hug either side of the touchlines while their Brazilian counterpart plays through the middle.
The trio has terrorized both Premier League and European defences in recent times. Double figures in the Champions League alone from each of the players led the to an unlikely final appearance last term.
Klopp will love to go one better this time around. Not only does he want to do that on the continent, he also has this little matter of dethroning Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City from the league summit.
To achieve this, he also knows Liverpool need squad depth. Hence the addition of the likes of Shaqiri upfront, Naby Keita and Fabinho in midfield and a world-class goalkeeper in Alisson Becker.
Apparently, Shaqiri is not better than any of the front three. This much is clear, but the Switzerland international comes loaded with his own qualities that make him almost indispensable to his manager.
His agility, speed, technical and dribbling skills, as well as ability to cross the ball and take free-kicks make him the right man to come in for any of the front three on a regular basis. The recent top of the table clash with Man City at Anfield was one of such cases. Surprisingly, Klopp chose to leave him on the bench throughout.
But just like Guardiola brought in Leroy Sane to run at the defence towards the end of the game, his opposite number should have unleashed the former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan speedster on the City defence too. Sane almost handed the reigning champions a win on the day when he proved too hot to handle for Virgil van Dijk who conceded a penalty for bringing him down.
Shaqiri, who was Stoke City’s highest goalscorer last season with eight strikes has proved he has an eye for goal and can be relied upon. On days when one of the front three is not fully fit, the 2013 Champions League winner with Bayern should be given the nod to start. He can also be preferred to start in order to give one of them a rest and prevent fatigue.
His exploits with the Switzerland national team show he can be a reliable option for the Merseysiders. His hunger to win is exactly what the team needs at times when things are difficult.
He can produce a moment of magic and provide the necessary spark to get the team going. Used rightly, he can prove to be a difference maker in the team this season.