It has been known for a while that Liverpool were looking to sell one of their attacking options due to the addition of Diogo Jota and the reduction in game time that this resulted in for the existing cohort of forward players.
While Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri had all been linked with moves away from the Reds, it was the latter who attracted the subsequent interest which ultimately saw his departure after three years at Anfield.
Shaqiri has frequently shown the qualities of a quality a top level attacking midfielder in a red shirt, so it is no surprise Olympique Lyonnais made him their No.1 target as they looked to fill the void left by Memphis Depay’s departure to Barcelona.
Despite Lyon’s financial issues at present, which showed with their low first offer of £4.2m, Juninho was determined to get his man and this has seen Liverpool receive £9.5m including bonuses, as a result, for the Swiss attacking midfielder. Many will be asking whether such a sum is fair compensation for a player who was a solid option for the Reds.
A desire to leave
There’s no denying Shaqiri’s quality and when he is at his best he can be unplayable, which makes many believe he should be kept by the Reds. However, the 29-year-old deserves to play and has expressed his desire for first team football to Jürgen Klopp and his coaching staff.
With Jota, Salah, Mané and Firimino all ahead of him in the pecking order for a starting berth, this looked unlikely. The only outcome was that the former Stoke City man was going to be looking elsewhere.
It would be a great asset for Liverpool to be able to rely on someone like Shaqiri from the bench due to his evident skill but also for the experience he has playing at the top level. Playing for Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Basel on the European stage as well as Liverpool and being twice a winner in the competition, Shaqiri’s experience at the top level is not something to come by very often. It’s fair a player with this experience and skillset deserves to be playing so a departure feels like the only fair outcome.
He made some vital contributions in a Liverpool shirt, like assisting Gini Wijnaldum against Barcelona in the Champions League semi final and scoring braces against Manchester United.
That’s on top of a list of trophies including a Champions League, Premier League, Club World Cup and Super Cup title. It’s only fair Shaqiri’s wish was granted and the Swiss was allowed to pursue a move to a football club where he would be a recognised starter.
Lyon is a great place for him to play his football. They are in need of an attacking leader, and Shaqiri has the qualities and experience to take on that responsibility. It’s an excellent football club with a history of winning in a beautiful city, somewhere he will no doubt enjoy living.
An experienced figure with a winning mentality
Even before his successes with Liverpool Shaqiri tasted his fair share of success with German giants Bayern Munich, winning a quintuple in 2013 as well another two Bundesliga titles in his time in Germany. The best clubs need players who know what it’s like to win and who continue to strive to do so despite previously tasting a plethora of success.
In Shaqiri’s first Liverpool interview after signing for the Reds, he said: “The fans deserve to win titles and I hope that we can do this together again, and end with lots of trophies”. Shaqiri’s words speak volumes of him as a player – he was always thinking about winning things and that’s exactly what he did.
Liverpool’s team is now full of winners due to the success Klopp has brought to the club in the last three years, but Shaqiri possessed this mentality long before many others in the team due to his successes in Germany and Switzerland. As others now have that experience the requirement of the Kosovan born winger has lessened in that respect, but a team can never have too many winners with an elite mentality and that is something Liverpool have lost.
But the Reds’ loss is Lyon’s gain. Les Gones have been on a barren run when it comes to winning trophies with their last success coming in 2012 when they lifted the Coupe de France. Shaqiri’s winning mentality could be exactly what OL need to end their run and perhaps the Swiss winger could be the man to lead them to silverware.
Shaqiri is many things – an incredible passer, set-piece specialist, creative force with supreme vision, fierce striker of the ball and a handful for defenders. But one thing he is not is someone who has been able to stay fit. This has been evident throughout his professional career.
The 29-year-old has an impressive record for Liverpool when it come to goal contributions, averaging a goal or assist every 146 minutes. He has also shown his ability to score and create goals at the Euros, managing three goals and one assist in five appearances as he led the Swiss to the quarter-finals. Someone with such an impressive record of contributing in front of goal is something that all teams would love to have at their disposal, Liverpool included.
Despite his stack of winner’s medals and impressive goal contribution record, the disappointing aspect of the attacking midfielder’s Liverpool career was his inability to stay fit for a continuous period of time. The former Bayern man only made 63 appearances for Liverpool and he wasn’t helped by the competition in front of him with arguably the best front three in the world to contest for starting places, but his injury record also played a major part in that.
In his time at Anfield the Swiss talisman has spent 358 days out with injury for Liverpool, missing a cumulative 40 games for the Reds. If Shaqiri had stayed fit throughout this time it is likely he would have featured a lot more than 63 times under Klopp and may have even been staying on Merseyside.
As Shaqiri is 29, wants to play first team football and has struggled with injuries as of late in the Premier League, his move to Lyon makes sense for all parties involved. However, it is a shame to see the Swiss international go and he will be missed at Anfield.
What can Lyon fans expect?
Shaqiri is an unpredictable character who can do things from nowhere that no-one was expecting. Whether it be his wand of a left foot or an eye for a pass which springs a teammate one-on-one with the ‘keeper, he has the ability to undoubtedly change the game on his own. Lyon’s loss of a game-changing forward will be eased with the arrival of Shaqiri.
With his ability to play a variety of positions, score goals, provide a threat from set-pieces, stand his ground physically, play a range of beautiful passes and create a plethora of chances, Peter Bosz, Juninho and everyone concerned at Lyon have a high quality player on their hands in Xherdan Shaqiri.
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