Sanjay Nair explains the headache Jurgen Klopp has as a result of Xherdan Shaqiri’s fine form and how he might be force to adjust things to accommodate the Swiss forward.
If it were told before the season started that this would be a headline within three months, there would be enough people assuming the worst and saying: We told you so.
Liverpool’s desire to buy Xherdan Shaqiri did have its fair share of criticism. While there was no doubting the talent, attitude and work-rate were not two of Shaqiri’s proven qualities. Or so they thought….
The moment we saw that stupendous overhead kick against Manchester United during pre-season, it was clear that we got a bargain for the £13.5m that was paid for his services.
Talent – check!
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Now came the hard part for many a footballer that has the privilege of working under Jürgen Klopp. Working hard during training and more importantly, showing patience until you are given your chance and justifying Klopp’s faith with on-field performances.
On both these counts Shaqiri, to the delight of all, has ticked the boxes in the most comprehensive style.
Not only has he made an immediate impact, providing key assists to open up matches that were often hanging the balance until that point, Big Shaq’s work rate has been the most commendable feature of his nascent Liverpool career.
Every time he is brought onto the field, Shaqiri provides a huge impetus to proceedings. Creativity going forward and striving to win the ball back from opponents displayed in equal measures, he has been a constant menace throughout. So much so that one begins to wonder whether Liverpool are getting out of Shaqiri what they bought Naby Keïta for.
His presence galvanises the team as well and it is amazing to see how quickly he has gelled with the front three and Mohamed Salah, in particular, has benefitted tremendously from this in rediscovering his goal-scoring form.
Having scored his first goal in the famous Red jersey will further Shaq’s confidence and those around him. All of this also points to how much Shaqiri is enjoying his time under Klopp and playing for Liverpool Football Club.
With each passing game, Shaqiri’s claims for a starting position in the team gets stronger and stronger. As good as his man management skills are, Klopp will be hard-pressed to ignore them for too long especially with Keïta and Henderson injured and Fabinho & Milner both more defensive options in midfield.
If ever a manager had a premonition of a player giving him a headache, this is the best possible way he would wish it turned out.