It has been a tough few months for Xherdan Shaqiri who has become a peripheral figure in the Liverpool camp.
Persistently linked with a move away from the club and barely any action on it, there certainly were questions regarding the future of the Switzerland international.
Shaqiri was left out of the squad for the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal due to injury and so far has been overlooked in Jurgen Klopp’s selection process in the Premier League.
It has become clear Shaqiri is not part of Liverpool’s best XI, and if he wants to play regularly, then a departure from the club is in his interests.
But until a decent bid comes in for him, he is a Liverpool player, and last night he showed he can still be a valuable squad player.
Creativity on show
Shaqiri started from the off and featured for 75 minutes as Liverpool romped to a 7-2 victory against Lincoln City.
He was named in Klopp’s starting XI for the first time since December and Shaqiri announced his return in a grand manner after getting Liverpool’s opening goal with a sweetly struck free-kick inside the opening 10 minutes.
Shaqiri was utilised in a much deeper position in midfield than the 28-year-old is accustomed to, yet it didn’t show as alongside Marko Grujic, Liverpool dominated possession and were exceptional at retaining the ball.
“First of all it was a super game; a super game from Shaq in a quite, I’m not sure, unfamiliar position – slightly deeper in midfield,” said Klopp in his post-match comments.
“The set-pieces were outstanding – the free-kick he scored with, what a goal that was! There is no doubt about Shaq’s quality, there was never [any doubt] and in the moment everything looks really, really good, it looks promising and we will see.”
Shaqiri was removed with 15 minutes to spare with fears of an injury to the player’s calf, which have been a reoccurring problem for Shaqiri in recent months.
“It was my fault [he was substituted] – he was completely fine, he twisted his ankle slightly but it was absolutely nothing,” added Klopp.
“He touched it twice and I thought it was his calf, but it is nothing. I think it was anyway good to take him off then, but he played a really, really good game.”
Shaqiri made three key passes – more than any player on the pitch and it was the Switzerland international’s pile-driver from a free-kick that got the ball rolling for Liverpool.
While Shaqiri is more naturally suited in the wide positions, he showcased his versatility and ability to drop in deep and offer midfield and extra layer of protection. He tirelessly all night and made the best of the possession they had.
Shaqiri also contributed defensively making one interception as well as drawing a foul for his team.
In the shop window
So, Shaqiri gave a timely reminder of his quality to Klopp when called upon to deliver. The problem for the former Stoke City forward, however, is how often can he perform at that level.
Last season, he was reduced to just two starts during Liverpool’s procession to the title last season. Admittedly, he had his injury woes yet there was a feeling among supporters that Shaqiri needed to be doing more to prevent a significant drop-off in attack to the club’s pedigreed front-three.
The question now is whether this bright display leads to kickstarting his Liverpool career, or a move elsewhere.
The Telegraph recently reported that Shaqiri was amongst a number of Liverpool stars who could be sold to raise additional funds at the club.
We will only find out the answer after the October 5 deadline, as right now Shaqiri’s future probably depends on whether a good offer comes in.
If a bid in the upward region of £20 million comes in for Shaqiri, then Liverpool may be inclined to accept.
But if he does end up staying at Liverpool, Shaqiri at least showed he can be of use to Klopp and the team when he is needed.
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