Xherdan Shaqiri is back training with Liverpool despite numerous reports linking the forward with a move away from Anfield this summer.
According to The ECHO, Liverpool have been open to the sale of winger Shaqiri since January.
However, with the season looming and financial backing in regards to transfers currently limited, it likely that Shaqiri will be handed the opportunity at Liverpool to play a part in Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the team’s upcoming title defence.
Shaqiri, 28, is currently contracted at the club until 2023 but recent reports indicate that the Switzerland international has been identified by the club as a viable route to raising funds within the club.
The Independent recently claimed that Shaqiri has showcased no desire to leave Anfield this summer although Klopp is reportedly open to the possibility of a sale.
If Shaqiri is up for the fight and willing to battle for Liverpool, then this can certainly be a positive.
The former Stoke City forward has personality on and off the pitch and, despite limited appearances last season largely due to injury, Shaqiri has demonstrated he can offer an edge in attack when called upon.
After-all, it was Shaqiri who first inspired Klopp to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation for the team back in September 2018, giving the team a fresh dynamic in attack with the Swiss international operating in the forward three.
Klopp recently highlighted the importance of squad depth and the difference effective back-ups can have on performances, which indicate Shaqiri’s popularity within the squad may mean his Liverpool career has more legs than many people expect.
“If you are a football supporter, you want a backup for him and him, even if you are completely happy with everyone, you want backups”, Klopp said back in July.
“We have a lot of…we don’t have a first XI, I say we have a first 16 or 17, they can all play to the same level.”
Klopp has maintained his transfer approach for some time now having indicated that it is impossible for the club to make big-money signings in the current economic climate which puts a greater onus on squad players to step-up and provide the squad with internal value.
Players like Shaqiri and Naby Keita were very-much unreliable in terms of durability last year which effectively reduced Liverpool’s options from the bench. This can’t happen again next season ahead of what is expected to be the most highly-congested and physically gruelling campaign to date.
Also, Liverpool are yet to make a senior attacking addition since Shaqiri joined the club in 2018 so the likelihood of the club allowing the player to leave without a viable replacement just doesn’t make sense.
Currently, it appears no attacking options are being brought in, so Shaqiri would add value and depth by staying put.
Perhaps too much is being made for Liverpool’s so-called urgent need of attacking reinforcements as it’s easy to forget just how effective the likes of Shaqiri and Divock Origi have been when called upon for Liverpool.
The reality is that opportunities were thin last season in a forward line that did well to remain fit and durable for practically the entirety of the previous season.
Collectively, Shaqiri and Origi started just eight PL matches last season yet still produced a combined five goals and three assists during that time which considering limited appearances in the team isn’t bad at all.
Shaqiri offers Klopp the opportunity to make tactical tweaks when the standard approach isn’t working and his involvement gives Liverpool an added sense of unpredictability which was exploited during the 5-2 victory against Everton back in December.
Having that extra option could be valuable, and considering Shaqiri has documented that he wants to stay, we shouldn’t overlook how important he can still be.
If Liverpool can get a decent fee for Shaqiri this summer then the dynamic could still change, but at present that does not look viable.
Keeping him can still be a major benefit to Liverpool especially given his determination to prove himself to Klopp and his coaching staff. Shaqiri could still have plenty to contribute.
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