Jurgen Klopp has a chance to bring back Xherdan Shaqiri against Burnley on Saturday. The Swiss hasn’t featured for some time.
Shaqiri has played under a minute of senior football in 2020. That came back in early January against Tottenham Hotspur where he played the role of a time-wasting substitute.
Quite clearly, he’s not a key player, then. Not that it’s his fault – Shaqiri has missed a lot of football through injury this season. In fact, football being on hold for three months is the only reason he’s able to play at all as he’s only just back in training.
And so Klopp has a chance to revitalise a player who can still play a solid role at Liverpool.
Shaqiri put in what is undoubtedly his finest performance of the season when Liverpool beat Everton 5-2. The Reds surprised everyone with a much-changed selection and a switch back to 4-2-3-1.
The Swiss played wonderfully, grabbing a goal and threatening the Toffees for 90 minutes. He was so good that we actually thought he’d play a key role in December.
As it turned out, Shaqiri started two games after Everton. One against Watford and one against Monterrey in the Club World Cup. Not only were those his only subsequent starts in December but, along with the Everton game, they’re his only starts this season.
Safe to say he didn’t meet our expectations, then. Instead, Shaqiri has spent a lot of time out injured and a lot of time simply unused.
A change of plans
Put all of that together and you come to an obvious conclusion – he’ll likely leave this summer. There have been reports claiming he will, too, with Newcastle United reportedly interested.
But with Liverpool now looking unlikely to sign anyone, Shaqiri could surely stay. Why lighten the squad from a talented player if you’re not replacing him, after all?
And if Shaqiri is staying, then these four remaining games are the time to get him back in his groove ahead of pre-season. And of those four games, Burnley at home is the best place to do it.
The other remaining games are against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle. We can’t see Shaqiri playing much of a role in those. But against Burnley, Liverpool may need to rotate and rest a few.
That Arsenal game come just four days later. Seeing as the team will expect a fairly comfortable victory against Burnley, the ideal situation is to take a couple of key players off early.
So Shaqiri has his chance to get some decent game time on his return from injury if the Burnley game does go that way. And it would be exactly what he needs ahead of pre-season if the plan is to keep him.
There are a few ‘ifs’ in there, of course, but we do suspect that is the plan. And Klopp won’t get a better time than this Saturday to start getting Shaqiri ready for that.