From getting relegated with Stoke City back in the 2017/18 season to playing with what would become the eventual Champions League and Premier League winners, just how good has the Powercube been for Liverpool?
By José Díaz Navarro (@Cheduardo99)
After qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, Jurgen Klopp was in search of a backup for the starting front three of the team.
Klopp has always loved signing players from relegated teams: Andy Robertson from Hull, Gini Wijnaldum from Newcastle, Danny Ings from Burnley, and added to that list was Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City for a reported fee of £13.5 million.Embed from Getty Images
Having been part of the Liverpool team who won the Champions League and got one point off winning the Premier League title, just how good has the Swiss international been for the Reds?
Lack of Depth
When the 17/18 season ended, Liverpool didn’t have much back-up in the attacking department. Divock Origi and an ageing Daniel Sturridge found themselves with Lazar Markovic and Sheyi Ojo, who were clearly not up to par, as the only backups for the front three alongside Danny Ings.
With Markovic being the only player able to play as a right-winger, Klopp knew he had to bring someone good enough to take Mo Salah’s spot if something were to happen to him.Embed from Getty Images
In came Xherdan Shaqiri, who had just been relegated with Stoke City despite his 15 goal contributions in all 36 games of the season, with 8 of those being goals and 7 being assists.
An already established Premier League attacker was always going to be a good option for a backup, and seeing how they could get Shaqiri for less since he just got relegated, how could Liverpool not bring him in?
Shaqiri made his Premier League debut for the Reds in a 4-0 win against West Ham back in the 12th of August, 2018, where he only featured for 8 minutes. He went on to make a full 90-minute debut against Huddersfield, where he assisted the only goal of the game.Embed from Getty Images
By the end of the 18/19 season, Xherdan managed to get a total of 6 goals and 3 assists in 24 games, seeing his goals per match average being 0.25 while the previous season when he was in Stoke, saw him get only a 0.22. Of course, it goes without saying that he was also quite an important player in our Champions League run.
While he may have only featured once outside the group stage, he managed to get the assist for the equalizing goal in the fantastic 4-0 comeback win against FC Barcelona at Anfield, one of the most important games in his career for sure.
Forgetful 19/20 Season
Sadly for the Swiss player, the 19/20 season wasn’t too kind to him. Having gotten injured several times, Shaqiri saw himself featuring in only 7 out of the 36 league games.
In these, he only managed to score 1 goal while registering 0 assists. This goal came in the form of the second against Everton in the memorable 5-2 win against the Toffees.
Having created 0 big chances in the Premier League last season, it was mostly one to forget for Xherdan. So far into the 2020/21 season, Shaq has only featured in two games, with the first being in the League Cup match against Lincoln City.Embed from Getty Images
Having played out of position, he actually managed to put in quite a good performance for the Reds as he saw himself scoring the first goal of the encounter.
The only other match he’s featured in so far has been the first Champions League match this season, which was away at Ajax. Having played only 30 minutes plus added time after Klopp decided to make a triple substitution that saw our regular front three be benched for Jota, Minamino, and Xherdan himself, the Swiss international recorded one shot and had a 50% passing success rate. While he didn’t make any big impacts, he was smart on the ball and gave a pretty decent performance for someone who hasn’t played a Champions League game since September 17th, 2019.
Should Shaqiri Stay?
Now the big question is, should we keep Xherdan as a backup? Of course, rumours were coursing around about him leaving before the transfer window closed.
It was rumoured that Jurgen Klopp was looking to cash in on him along with some other players, but should he really try to do this in the next transfer window?
With Diogo Jota signing for Liverpool, now we have two backups for Sadio Mane and three for Bobby Firmino since him and Divock Origi can both play in their positions.
On the other hand, we have Takumi Minamino, who can play in both Firmino’s and Mo Salah’s positions. While Taki has shown some bright performances recently, I personally feel that Shaqiri is a more reliable option when things get sticky.Embed from Getty Images
With all of this said, I think Jurgen Klopp should hold onto him for a little longer at least. Xherdan clearly has some class in him still, and his creativity could certainly help us in our quest to win back-to-back Premier League titles.
Transfer Rating: 7.5/10