This past week signalled the return to training for Premier League clubs, and while Jürgen Klopp claimed the squad was all fit, a certain Xherdan Shaqiri was reported absent due to a lingering calf issue that has plagued him all season.
One silver lining to this worldwide pandemic is that it should have provided some much-needed time for players such as Shaqiri and Naby Keïta to recoup from the injuries that have hindered their time so far in a Liverpool shirt.
While it seems the Guinean has returned to Melwood in shape, even so far appearing as a more bulked up version of his former self, his Swiss teammate’s absence suggests he’s still not quite over the calf strain that has seen him miss action since the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey in December.
It still remains to be seen if the 28-year-old will turn up in training in the coming days, but it nevertheless should be a worry that a key component of Liverpool’s attacking depth is missing after a nearly nine week layoff.
Ever since his transfer from Swiss outfit FC Basel to perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in 2012, Shaqiri’s career has been interrupted by injuries. That said, this latest lengthy absence, which has limited him to only 10 appearances this season, is an anomaly in the context of his injury history — this is shaping up to be one of the most mysterious spells the Swiss has experienced in his career.
Brought in for the bargain price of £13million, Shaqiri was never expected to play every game. Yet, most would still admit that the stocky wideman hasn’t featured nearly as much as we would have expected him to since his arrival.
Having appeared in only six Premier League matches this season, four from the bench, Shaqiri has managed one goal this campaign. Luckily, the rest of the squad have been clinical this season and haven’t missed the services of the Swiss with the Reds currently twenty-five points clear.
Despite the achievements of the squad without the availability of the former Basel prodigy, Shaqiri’s injury worries will no doubt present a massive concern for Klopp moving forward beyond just this season.Embed from Getty Images
In the current climate, it has been reported that Liverpool might not be doing too much business, in terms of both incomings and outgoings, once the transfer window opens back up upon the completion of the season.
Aside from the likes of Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, both of whom are out of contract, the Reds are expected to keep hold of the rest of their squad — something which will work in Shaqiri’s favour.
Over the past few transfer windows, his brother, Erdin, has claimed that a host of European outfits including Roma and Sevilla have been interested in acquiring the Swiss international.
Despite this interest and his lack of playing time, Klopp, who has discussed his frustrations regarding his player’s injury layoffs, has on more than one occasion publicly expressed his desire for Shaqiri to remain at Anfield and play a part in his squad.
Back in November the gaffer was quizzed on the wideman’s lack of opportunities to which he replied: “Yes, but he needs to be fit [to play]. That is all we are concerned about at the moment. He was out long and he trained and was really good in moments and in other moments it was different to the rehab stuff he did before.”
From Klopp’s perspective it really boils down to Shaqiri just being fit and available for selection, something which the Swiss unfortunately has not been able to manage throughout his time at Liverpool so far.
Shaqiri may move on in the summer, or he may not — but it’s likely to be contingent on whether the 28-year old can get fit and stay fit. Despite this current team’s obvious togetherness, the Swiss’ mounting injuries seem to paint him as the perennial odd man out in the Liverpool squad.
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