Liverpool’s convoluted transfer for Nabil Fekir, and its eventual collapse final summer season, appeared to whip the followers right into a frenzy, a lot so that when the membership turned its consideration away from the Lyon ahead, their “Plan B” may have been thought of a contact underwhelming. But whereas there are a lot of contenders for Liverpool’s Participant of the Season award to date — from Virgil van Dijk to Andrew Robertson and even James Milner — right amongst them is Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaqiri’s two objectives in opposition to Manchester United within the Three-1 win at Previous Trafford earlier this month have been essentially the most eye-catching contributions of his time on the membership, however common watchers would recommend he made his presence felt a while in the past.
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The addition of Shaqiri, signed from relegated Stoke for round £13.5 million in the summertime, has labored completely for Jurgen Klopp on numerous ranges, essentially the most fundamental of which is his particular person performances. Klopp has variously described the stocky Swiss midfielder’s contributions as “genius” and “not regular” — the latter, it ought to be burdened, was meant in a constructive means. However greater than that, Shaqiri has been an emblem of how brilliantly this Liverpool aspect works as a footballing machine. He has slotted in seamlessly, absorbed into the staff like a dancer becoming a member of a gaggle routine with out lacking a step. That is down to him and his perspective, in fact, but additionally the collective unit being so versatile and amenable to new arrivals.
Sometimes gamers are signed by huge golf equipment to substitute, put stress on or act as backup to their established stars, however Shaqiri immediately complemented final season’s magnificent attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. But to even introduce Shaqiri as part of that attacking line-up was a big gamble for Klopp.
Given Liverpool’s issues final season have been on the again and their entrance three contributed 91 objectives between them, no person would have criticised him for leaving them properly alone and concentrating on making enhancements elsewhere. However Klopp knew the forwards often had issues breaking lesser sides down final time period; in these kind of video games, a barely completely different method was known as for. That method has been to play a Four-2-Three-1 formation with Shaqiri enjoying alongside the others, and never simply individually excelling however making the staff as an entire higher too.
Signing a lower-profile participant from a relegated membership while you have title aspirations may have been thought of a raffle, however Liverpool know it will probably work as a result of they’ve made it work earlier than. Andrew Robertson and Georginio Wijnaldum have been introduced in from Hull and Newcastle respectively, after their demotions to the Championship, and for those who add Shaqiri, the trio value about £45m. The idea of “worth” may appear a bit outdated in a contemporary age the place golf equipment the dimensions of Liverpool have such lavish sources, nevertheless it shows that their switch coverage is versatile. They need the right participant, relatively than the largest title or the most costly.
Shaqiri, specifically, carried a component of danger. A participant who had failed at his two earlier huge golf equipment, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, he had a short public spat with Charlie Adam earlier this season to gas rumours that he was a troublemaker. However in actuality he wasn’t any bother in any respect, described by one determine at Stoke as “most likely the one constructive” to come from final season.
Liverpool clearly knew not solely what kind of participant they have been getting however what sort of character he had too. This was not merely a panic transfer after the Fekir deal fell via, both: they’d been on Shaqiri’s case for a while.
“Bayern did not need to promote me at that time,” mentioned Shaqiri simply after he signed, discussing the summer season of 2014 when he wished to be a part of Liverpool just for it to be blocked by the membership. “Then the next January I signed for Inter. In fact I used to be upset not to signal for Liverpool, however my brother is my agent and since then he has at all times been in touch with the sporting director right here [Michael Edwards]. Lastly, I’m a Liverpool participant.”
Of the gamers to arrive at Anfield final summer season, Shaqiri checked out greatest the third-most vital, after Naby Keita and Fabinho, and at worst an afterthought, the comfort prize they fell again on when goal No. 1 did not arrive. However he is been the perfect of the three.
Shaqiri represents everything that Liverpool have got right this season and why they’re high of the league when most individuals simply hoped they’d hold Manchester Metropolis trying over their shoulders. It speaks volumes that not many individuals are speaking about Fekir anymore.