By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri has had an up-and-down debut season.
Like most Jurgen Klopp signings, it took the Swiss international a few weeks before he broke into the starting eleven – and as we know, he never really cemented a starting place, with the boss opting to use him sparingly as an impact sub when needed.
Shaqiri’s unofficial debut came in a pre-season match in July against Manchester United in front of around 100,000 supporters seated in Michigan’s “Big House.” The Swiss scored an overhead kick against the Reds’ most hated rivals in what was an encouraging start to the Swiss’ time at the club.
To the delight of Liverpool supporters the ex-Stoke man imposed his will once again on United, this time in the Premier League. Shaqiri scored two goals off the bench in what would ultimately seal now Jose Mourinho’s fate – he was relieved of his duties days later.
Of course, one couldn’t forget the role Shaqiri played in perhaps the most historic night at Anfield, against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. This time he turned provider, as his left-footed cross connecting with the head of Gini Wijnaldum to level the score on aggregate 3-3, and the rest is history.
Other than that, Shaqiri didn’t featured as heavily as he wanted. appearing 30 times across all competitions with exactly half of those appearances coming off the bench. His goals against Cardiff, Fulham, Burnley, and Newcastle rounded off his scoring for the rest of the season.
With the transfer window now open, there’s really no surprise to see Shaqiri’s name linked away from the club. It was recently reported that West Ham were interested in his signature at a quoted fee of £22.5 million – almost £10m more than what Liverpool paid last summer.
Should Jurgen look at offloading his super sub this summer?
It would be an interesting situation had Shaqiri voiced his frustration with his lack of playing time, but the Manchester derby hero has put all rumblings of him moving on to bed after the Reds lifted their sixth European Cup.
Spoken like a man who’s enjoying playing under one of the best managers in the world as well as one of the best clubs in the world. The boss was even quoted prior to the Champions League Final highlighting the Swiss’ importance to his side despite people – including Shaqiri himself – thinking that he perhaps wasn’t used enough.
There just simply isn’t enough value in letting Shaqiri go for £22.5m. While he only scored only six goals this season across all competitions, there’s no denying the value the Swiss attacker adds in depth – we’d be taking a step backwards if we were to sell Shaqiri.
For years we’ve been clamouring for squad depth. Need I remind you of the days where sometimes our best options to start, not even just come off the bench, but to start. were the likes of Victor Moses, a broken Iago Aspas, Jordan Ibe, and Stewart Downing to name but a few.
Squads, like that of Manchester City for example, don’t cut ties with classy fringe players – they stockpile them in case of emergency, and they’ve won just about everything barring a European Cup. Klopp has built Liverpool back up close to the powerhouse it once was, where he can now afford to have players of real quality on his substitute’s bench every week.
For this, we need the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri. We’ve been quite lucky with injuries this past season but, should one of the front three go down and we’re without a player like Shaqiri to be able to replace them, we’d be in trouble. I know I’d feel more comfortable having a two-time Champions League winner on the bench.
He is still 27, right in the prime of his career, ready to push others in the squad to improve in Shaqiri’s own hopes of breaking into the starting eleven should those above him become complacent.
Klopp certainly realises the value the Swiss product brings to this side. Thr German has made it clear he enjoys having Shaqiri in the squad, while the player himself has indicated that he’s content with his role within the squad.
It has been a perfect marriage thus far, and it would be a shame should the Reds decide to cash in on him so soon.