He may insist he’s happy where he is, but with very little playing time in the last few months and a far less important role at Anfield, Xherdan Shaqiri is at something of a crossroads.
Despite having already gained a vast amount of experience at football’s highest level, Jürgen Klopp’s decision to add the former Bayern Munich man to his ranks in July 2018 still raised eyebrows amongst various fans.
Now, more than a year on from joining the Reds — due to restricted playing time — questions have once again surfaced as to why the 28-year-old was recruited in the first place.
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In his short career at the club to date, it is evident for all to see that he has been employed as a squad player, a very talented one to say the least.
The qualities that Shaqiri offers Klopp from the bench are very much required at the highest level in terms of a squad being able to compete. One thing that has never been in doubt is the superb technical ability that the Swiss provides, especially from dead ball situations.
Looking towards the ninth round of Premier League fixtures, Liverpool’s No.23 is yet to start in the competition this season. However, the player’s understanding and professionalism is yet to be questioned.
Shaqiri has featured briefly in two Premier League games and made a cameo appearance in the Champions League. Unfortunately, due to minor injuries his involvement has been restricted — missing the Carabao Cup game at MK Dons, in which he would certainly have featured.
In such a short period of time, Shaqiri has already established himself in the history at Anfield. The winger played a vital role as Liverpool secured a sixth European title, but his contribution towards helping the Reds to claim it have gone almost under the radar.
On one of those European nights at Anfield, Divock Origi stole the show with a magical double that meant the Reds stunned Barcelona, winning on aggregate despite having a three-goal deficit after the first leg.
Missing key players and looking for some quality in depth, both Origi and Shaqiri stepped up. The Belgian netted twice and got the headlines, but many seem to forget that it was the Swiss who laid on the third of the night perfectly for Georginio Wijnaldum.
Klopp’s options may have been limited by Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino’s absences through injury, but he showed faith in his squad members. The German trusted the former Stoke City man to come in for a Champions League semi-final. It emphasises why he was brought to the club.
Shaqiri offers qualities from the bench that various sides struggle to field in the strongest XI. Throughout his career there have been worries about his fitness, but when he is available the Reds are certainly a stronger side.
The importance of having options from the bench is slowly increasing to meet the demands of competing in several competitions. Having cost just £13.5million, the recruitment process that brought him to the club must be praised.
And despite not being a regular name on the teamsheet, Shaqiri’s quality off the bench and ability to add something different cannot be understated.