Xherdan Shaqiri has been always been far from a regular at Liverpool. Whether he was meant to be one or not is anybody’s guess, but he has still come up with moments of inspiration for the Reds. It is just for those moments that the Reds should not let the Swiss go, despite interest from Roma in recent days.
With the giallorossi having lost Nicolo Zaniolo to a season-ending ACL and meniscus injury, they are hunting for potential replacements. Many names did come to the fore, but it does as though they’re settling for Matteo Politano now. As for Liverpool, selling Shaqiri should never be an option for them.
This season, the former Bayern Munich and Inter man has made only ten appearances in all competitions for the club. He has one goal to his tally and that came in the club’s 5-2 win over Everton when Shaqiri was a right-winger in the club’s 4-3-3 shape.
He is a bench option who makes up for Mohamed Salah’s absence. If the Egyptian doesn’t get injured or doesn’t need rest, Shaqiri stays on the bench.
But Shaqiri is the sort of player every club needs. He is a lot like what an all-rounder can be in a T20 game of cricket. He may not play too much. But he can always come up with crucial moments when the team is in desperate need for it. These moments can go a long way in shaping the club’s season, handing them crucial points.
When he came to Anfield from Stoke for a fee of £13 million, he was probably meant to be this moments-based player. He has done enough to justify that price-tag too.
Last season was proof of that. He was crucial in helping the club beat Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final last season. In the absence of Salah, he came up with a crucial contribution on a historic night. He got a brace against Manchester United at Anfield, helping the Reds win 3-1.
Towards the end of the previous season, he got a match-winning assist for Divock Origi away to Newcastle. That kept the club in the title race, with a game to go. And in 30 appearances, he got 11 goal contributions. That is well enough for a player who cost £13 million.
After the contributions against United, Andy Robertson was full of praise for Shaqiri. He told the Liverpool Echo:
“He is seizing his chance and good on him, you can use it to your advantage because you might go under the radar a wee bit.
“There might not be as big a deal made about your signing but you can use that to your advantage because it takes time to get your feet under the table.
“Shaq has hit the ground running, quicker than I did, so credit to him. He has learned the way to play and he has been fantastic all season – a real threat for us and his stats this season are very good, so long may that continue.”
Shaqiri is hardly someone who will create or score too many goals. His highest goal contributions tally in the top five leagues of Europe came in his last season at Stoke. He got eight goals and seven assists.
More than anything, it is tough to find players like Shaqiri. Even for a club like Liverpool, it is tough to pick out a player who will be happy with a second-choice player. They will need first-team football to thrive. But Liverpool need a player who can do that job of a moments-based player. Shaqiri has done that perfectly. Very countable players can do that.
He hasn’t exactly complained about not getting regular football. Till the time he does that, the Reds have to get the most out of him and his game-changing abilities. As the season wears on, Shaqiri’s value will only come to the fore more and more.