After seemingly disappearing from any relevant first-team action in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, Xherdan Shaqiri may well be wondering if he still has a future with Liverpool.
Many Reds fans were somewhat underwhelmed when the club triggered Shaqiri’s £13 million release clause (BBC) to sign the Swiss international from Stoke City last summer. However, his early-season performances made it look like Liverpool had found themselves a real bargain.
Before the turn of the year, Shaqiri managed to bag himself six Premier League goals for Liverpool including a hugely important brace to win the game after coming off the bench against Manchester United at Anfield.
That game would be Jose Mourinho’s final match in charge of United and 10 days later Shaqiri would score his last goal of the season as Liverpool thrashed Newcastle 4-0.
Shaqiri’s last league start for Liverpool was in the 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City at the end of January. In fact, he wouldn’t start another game in any competition until that famous 4-0 win against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final second leg – a night when both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were out injured – on May 7th.
Jurgen Klopp didn’t even give Shaqiri any minutes from the bench between February 24th and April 26th. He did come on in the 90th minute of the 2-0 win over Chelsea in mid-April but that was only a ploy from Klopp to eat up those last valuable seconds of the game. Shaqiri was named on the bench for 11 consecutive fixtures in that period and not used once.
In just 1048 minutes of Premier League action, Shaqiri scored six goals and laid on three assists (stats courtesy of Understat.com) for his teammates, meaning he either scored or created a goal in every 116 minutes of league football in 2018/19. That’s not a bad goal involvement rate at all.
Only Klopp and his backroom team know if Shaqiri fits into their long-term plans but, at only 27, the creative dynamo can still play his part in unlocking teams – his link-up play with Mohamed Salah was delightful at times.
The lack of game-time afforded to Shaqiri in the second half of the season makes for uncomfortable reading, though. Is there some issue behind the scenes which has possibly irked Jurgen Klopp?
With Liverpool’s predicted inactivity in the transfer market, however, Shaqiri’s days in red may not be numbered just yet. He needs to be ready to show his worth once again if given the opportunity.
Over to you, Xherdan.