A surprise positional change might just see Xherdan Shaqiri stay with Liverpool. It’ll all depend on long-term plans elsewhere.
Disclaimer: We don’t expect Xherdan Shaqiri to stay. Reports suggest he has a £13m price tag on his head and clubs will pay it.
It would be a shame. Shaqiri is a hugely talented player but one who we haven’t quite seen the best from. It’s there in flashes, certainly, but over an entire season? Injuries and trust in other players prevented that.
Though, Shaqiri leaving depends on one thing in our minds – Harvey Elliott. We see him as the long-term successor to Mohamed Salah but short-term, he should take Shaqiri’s role.
Elliott already appears ready to play a part in the squad and that could mean rapid development. The Liverpool Echo suggests that’s the plan. But space needs to be there and that means shipping off Shaqiri.
Or does it?
Could Shaqiri stay?
Jurgen Klopp used Elliott from the start in the second of Liverpool’s friendlies on Tuesday. Intriguingly, he played him in midfield.
Is that the long-term idea for Elliott? Or was this merely an attempt to fit a bit-part squad together?
We think it was the former. The front three was Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Klopp could easily have played Salah centrally, Elliott on the right, and put Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield.
But he didn’t.
Instead, Elliott played a midfield role and looked good there. Good enough that we may see that as his position going forward.
And if that’s the case, Shaqiri might be better off staying. Liverpool aren’t going to sign anyone better with that £13m. Maybe they can put all their cash together to find a star but we don’t get the impression they have that kind of cash.
Not to mention the fact that Shaqiri looked really, really good with Switzerland at Euro 2020. He was creative, he scored goals, and was a standout player in a decent team.
He certainly looked good enough to play semi-regularly for Liverpool.
What makes us wonder, though, is his age. Shaqiri turns 30 in October and that might mean moving him on makes sense regardless of Elliott.
Bringing in a younger player to develop on that right flank is sensible, given most of the best first-team players are similar in age to Shaqiri. Liverpool could do with investing in youth.
So maybe Elliott plays centrally and Liverpool do sign a replacement winger. It’s arguably the smart move.
But the door is open to keeping Shaqiri when we thought it was nailed shut. Maybe the Swiss still has a role to play.