What Xherdan Shaqiri will bring to Liverpool

Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City - Premier League
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With our Reds seemingly nearing a deal for Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri, Jack Hallows looks at what the attacker will bring to the club. 

On the surface, this is a thoroughly underwhelming transfer for Liverpool Football Club – not least because it’s the kind of player we were looking to buy four years ago when Brendan Rodgers was still Liverpool manager.

A £13m temperamental winger when you’ve just come within an inch of winning the Champions League and finished in the top four two seasons in a row?

When you look at it that way, it is a little baffling.

However, dig a little deeper and this becomes a shrewd move by the club.

Liverpool are already in possession of one of the best – if not the best – attacking tridents in European football.

Seriously, find me a trio who had a better 2017/18 campaign collectively than Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. I’ll save you the trouble looking because you just can’t.

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The way the three play together, using each other’s best attributes to their collective advantage and swarming upon opposition defenders like a pack of wolves is incredible.

However, while on that evidence we don’t need any new guaranteed starting additions to our attack, it’s what’s behind them in the pecking order them that caused the Reds the most problems last season.

Following the sale of Philippe Coutinho, the Reds didn’t have an overly convincing back-up to any of their front three and even when they looked as if they’d benefit from a break, they were forced to continue playing every single week.

Dominic Solanke showed glimpses but ultimately is too raw to be a real difference maker yet, Danny Ings looks like a man who has missed the last two years through injury, Adam Lallana was consistently absent and Daniel Sturridge went on loan to West Brom.

It was plan A or bust. Especially after Oxlade-Chamberlain’s untimely injury against Roma.

That’s where this season, Xherdan Shaqiri comes into play.

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The former Bayern Munich forward has never been the most consistently impressive player, doing well more-so in fits and spurts but it’s his ability to simply pull a moment of magic out of nowhere that will likely have caught Klopp’s eye.

The Swiss attacker has a real penchant for scoring from range both from dead ball situations and from open play and while he’s never quite posted Firmino, Salah or Mané numbers, he’s always been fairly consistent.

Then there’s his creative ability which, slightly surprisingly, is genuinely up there with Liverpool’s best current creative forces.

Per 90 minutes of Premier League football last season, Shaqiri created 2.27 chances with a number of those coming from corners – an area Liverpool could certainly improve – and registered seven assists.

That’s a better creative streak than both Mohamed Salah (1.92 chances per 90 and 10 assists) and Sadio Mané (1.90 chances per 90 and 7 assists).

While of course, his end product is lower than Salah’s and equal to Sadio’s, he was surrounded by far inferior players.

Present the number of chances he created (75) to our attackers and you’re looking at a player more than capable of registering double figures for assists.

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What he does on the pitch numbers-wise aside, Shaqiri is an intelligent signing by Edwards, Klopp and co. simply just because of the experience he will bring to the club.

At 26, Shaqiri is just about entering into the peak years of his career and having already played for Bayern Munich and Inter Milan while also featuring as a prominent figure for his national side since he was just 18, the forward certainly boasts a lot of experience at the top level.

He’s also spent the last three years plying his trade in the Premier League, registering a trio of solid seasons as one of the standout players in a struggling Stoke side.

He’s certainly no schmuck.

As I said before, if Liverpool were signing Xherdan Shaqiri as a replacement for any of our front three, I’d be genuinely upset.

However, this isn’t the case and as a rotational option who will bring experience, proven numbers and pace to our squad ranks, I welcome the decision to sign the Swiss international.

Especially for just under £14m.


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