Reports from various news outlets, including Sky Sports claim that Stoke City have agreed a fee of around £12million with Italian giants Internazionale for Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri. The signing would be a major coup for the Potters.
The signing represents a sign of changing times in the Potteries, as Shaqiri was just a few short years ago considered one of brightest young stars in world football.
The 23-year-old has not enjoyed the best of times at Bayern Munich, or Inter, but still holds a lot promise.
When Shaqiri was playing for Basel in his homeland he was embarked as a star of the future, after impressing at junior level and for the Swiss club themselves. His promise earned him a big move to German giants Bayern Munich in 2012.
Shaqiri showed flashes of his talent in Bavaria, but struggled for first team football at Bayern. No doubt this led to an inconsistency in his performances when he did get the chance to impress. The competition for places in a star-studded Bayern midfield was just too much for the Swiss international and he joined Italian club Inter in January for a fee of around £16million.
This was supposed to be the start of Shaqiri blossoming into the finished article. Unfortunately things did not work in Milan either and he made just eight starts for the Nerazzurri. It looks like the next stop for Shaqiri is the Potteries.
Shaqiri is technically gifted, but definitely in the ‘mercurial’ category when it comes to his talent. He has the ability to excite and frustrate in equal measures. However on his day he is the sort of player that football was invented for.
At just 23, Shaqiri has already gained a hug amount of experience. He has played 46 times for his country and scored 17 goals. The former-Basel player was one of their brighter performers at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for his country.
During his time in Bavaria he claimed two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League winner’s medal. These experiences will stand him in good stead for life in the Premier League.
If some reports are to be believed then Stoke could have beaten off competition from the likes Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United to sign the Switzerland international midfielder. If those reports are true then everybody at the club deserves praise.
Anyway back to Stoke and the change of image of the club. A few years ago Stoke were considered direct football merchants, who battled their way to victories and played the game on the edge under Tony Pulis.
Rightly or wrongly the reputation helped the Potters gain results, especially at the Britannia Stadium, which became a fortress.
Since Mark Hughes’ arrival as boss he has attempted to mix up the teams style of play slightly, with more passing and less direct football. Playing a more expansive style of football has saw the Potters bring in the likes of promising Spanish striker Bojan, mercurial Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic and last season on-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses.
Former Barcelona youngster Bojan enjoyed a relatively slow start to his Potters career, but was just starting to hit form when he sustained a cruciate ligament injury in January. He is likely to be fit for the start of the new campaign, as he recovers from injury.
The fact that Stoke could have Shaqiri, Bojan and Arnautovic in their attacking armoury next season shows just how far the club have come in the last decade.
No longer are Stoke considered as one of the teams battling against relegation. They finished a comfortable ninth place in the league table last season after struggling to find form in the first part of the season.
Next season could be a very exciting one for fans of the club from the Potteries. Their primary aim will again be a top ten finish next season, which the Potters are odds of evens to achieve next season.
For me Shaqiri could turn out be one of the shrewdest signings of any of the Premier League signings this summer. He has the potential, the time and most importantly the possibility of game time next season to prove his ability in the English top-flight.
Will Xherdan Shaqiri be a success in the Premier League?