Liverpool returned to winning ways with back-to-back victories in the Premier League and Champions League, respectively, after going through a four-match winless streak earlier in September.
Victories over Huddersfield and Crvena Zvezda might have seen Mohamed Salah break the duck with his 50th Premier League goal and 50th Liverpool goal, respectively, but it’s been the diminutive Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri who deserves to be applauded for his master class performances.
Branded unprofessional and lazy for his below-par performances for Stoke City last season, the Swiss international was also perceived as Liverpool’s surprise purchase.
But Garry Neville and Charlie Adam will have been pleasantly surprised with how Xherdan Shaqiri has responded to criticism and how well he is adapting to a new role at Liverpool.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Just What Liverpool Needed
Jurgen Klopp did not think twice at the opportunity to bring Xherdan Shaqiri to Liverpool.
As a footballer who was once considered a huge Bayern Munich potential, the Swiss international has always been rated highly by Klopp. And with Reds heading into the 2018/19 season eager to challenge to major honours – both domestic and international – the German tactician knew that bolstering ranks is in order and that an opportunity as good as that one would not be missed.
As a winger, Shaqiri would always find it difficult to fight for his place in the team against the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah bursting on each side of the pitch but Jurgen Klopp was not particularly worried – due to the fluent nature of his team.
Having completely transformed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and reinvented the Englishman following a frustrating couple of seasons at Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp quickly realised that the same could be done with Shaqiri.
With Oxlade-Chamberlain in the treatment room, Jurgen Klopp needed that midfield motor, a player who could burst forward and fire a shot from time to time, thus providing Liverpool with a valuable alternative upfield.
Winger turned Midfielder
Jurgen Klopp would be the first to acknowledge that Liverpool’s most recent performances have not been up to the usual standard.
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Forced to deal with Naby Keita’s injury (and lack of form) and Fabinho’s inability to adapt to his new surroundings just yet, Jurgen Klopp repositioned Xherdan Shaqiri and instructed him to move into the central midfield role against Huddersfield. Admittedly, Huddersfield are hardly the side you can get your swagger on but Shaqiri did his fair share in trying.
A bit out of place in the opening stages of the match, Shaqiri quickly gained ground and ended up teeing up Mohamed Salah for his match-winner. The Swiss international was given a huge from Klopp on his way out of the pitch and was motivated to do more.
Red-Hot Against Red Star
The Champions League match against Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) came as a perfect opportunity to build the momentum and help Shaqiri grow into his new role at Liverpool.
The game against Serbian champions was a special occasion for the Kosovo-born footballer and he went on to brave the boos and rise above it with another compelling case to Jurgen Klopp’s selection worry.
Shaqiri sent Liverpool on their way to a compelling 4-0 victory by first winning possession and threading in a fantastic through pass for Andrew Robertson who crossed it over to Firmino. It was a single moment that proved Shaqiri’s desire to come as good as he can get for Liverpool. Heading forward he was directly involved in assisting Mohamed Salah for the second, thus grabbing an assist in each of his last three Liverpool games.
At £13 million Liverpool invested in bringing him this summer, Shaqiri is proving to be a bargain that could turn out to be the exact missing piece Liverpool need to win the Champions League this season.
As things stand at the moment, the Reds are given 9/1 betting odds to become the European champions this year.
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