Jurgen Klopp’s new tactical setup may just give Xherdan Shaqiri a Liverpool future. The Swiss international has become largely forgotten.
Klopp used a 4-2-3-1 system in the second half of the Community Shield last week. It’s something we’ve gone on about since, really, given the potential there.
It revitalised Liverpool’s attack on the day and can do so over the coming season. It suits various players, after all, and allows Klopp to switch things up without changing the personnel too much.
But it could revitalise more than just the Reds’ attack. It might just save Shaqiri’s Anfield career.
The forgotten one
Shaqiri was a £13m bargain when he arrived in 2018. He had a hot start to his time at Liverpool, too, particularly at the end of that year. But things tailed off. Shaqiri was never a regular and was firmly playing a squad role by the end of the season.
And that’s something he never moved out of last year, either. He only played seven Premier League games and had just two starts in all competitions. Injuries certainly played the biggest role but they weren’t the only problem.
The only successful part of Shaqiri’s career came when Klopp played 4-2-3-1. He used it in late 2018, primarily to get the best out of Fabinho. The Brazilian had arrived that summer but didn’t look comfortable in the usual 4-3-3.
In fact, Fabinho didn’t start a game in a 4-3-3 until March. So, whenever he did start, it was in the 4-2-3-1. And that suited Shaqiri. Mohamed Salah played as a central striker, meaning the right-wing spot was free.
Shaqiri could even play the no.10, if Liverpool needed him too. All together, Shaqiri got lots of opportunities in an attacking system and he played very well.
Without that system, though, he fell out of favour. Hence the lack of games last season.
A perfect example
Shaqiri did have one very good game last year, though. One of his two starts came against Everton at Anfield as Klopp rested Salah and Roberto Firmino.
The Swiss played excellently, scoring his only goal of the season and getting heavily involved. His 55 touches were more than any other attacker on the pitch – 16 more than Sadio Mane.
Tellingly, that game was the only time last season that Klopp started with a 4-2-3-1.
So if the boss wants to use it next season, Shaqiri is a great option once again. He’s a player who can play it very well – even at a time when he hasn’t played regular football for nearly a year.
Shaqiri didn’t appear to have a future at Liverpool but the potential formation change could save him. It would suddenly seem a little foolish to lose him, given the only other primary right-winger is Harvey Elliott and he’s only 17.
It’s certainly not the primary reason to switch systems, but Shaqiri is another positive that makes it worth trying.