The curious negativity surrounding Liverpool’s rumoured move the Swiss international
Social media sites were abuzz on Sunday night, as every man and his dog chipped in with their opinion on alleged Liverpool target Xherdan Shaqiri. Opinion seemed split down the middle – half thought he did well, with his assist on the night proof of his quality. The others thought his performance was devoid of work rate. It’s a modern phenomenon that is not going to go away, the snap judgment on a player without any real assessment of his game.
Whatever happens this summer with the Swiss winger, the World Cup should not be used as a barometer for the player’s true qualities and abilities to play for Liverpool.
There are a lot of people who will be outright against the move. However surely basing this judgment on a handle full of World Cup games and Premier League highlights is at best, a narrow view and at worst a lazy dismissal of a player’s talents.
We’ve been here before
For all scouts and talent spotters in the game, the World Cup must be a conundrum. Surely the whole purpose of a scout is to spend valuable time watching a player in a variety of matches at club level? It is bizarre then, when clubs are wowed by a handful of performances at a World Cup. The nuances of international football are so different to the frantic weekly matches in the Premier League. That is why it’s important for any judgement on the likes of Shaqiri to not be based on backs-to-wall group games against vastly superior sides like Brazil.
Snap judgments from a handful of games led us all to be lulled into a false sense of expectation when Gerard Houllier swooped for two of Senegal’s stars from the 2002 tournament. El Hadji Diouf and Salif Diao were hot off their exploits for the African Nation in Japan and Korea when they made their move to a Liverpool. They linked up with a side that had just finished second in the league and reached a Champions League Quarter Final.
A glance at both players that summer would have had most excited about what they could bring to the Premier League. It turned out to be very different and very painful for all involved as the Senegalese pair failed miserably to adapt to the step up in quality from the lower reaches of the French top flight. Houllier must have had his reasons for going after them and done some homework, but surely a closer look at both player’s true capabilities before we signed them would have spared us all.
Klopp has earned our faith
For people panicking about Liverpool’s rumoured willingness to sign Shaqiri it is also important to remember that Klopp has a history of this type of signing. The temptation and desire is for Liverpool to always open the cheque book and sign a proven world class talent.
However, Klopp likes to get his scouts profiling and working hard to identify decent players who can do a job but don’t always cost a bank breaking sum. Andy Robertson and Gini Wijnaldum are typical of his recruitment methods. Neither could be considered top talents and they had both experienced relegation with their clubs. Nevertheless the German swopped for the unfashionable pair.
The left-back area in particular had been a weakness for Liverpool with many crying out for a top class signing to plug the position once and for all. Jonas Hector, again fresh from an impressive performance at the Euros in 2016 was linked for a long time. The German international certainly seemed to fit the bill and rumours continued to swirl until it was announced that James Milner would operate there for a season as Klopp clearly hadn’t found anyone suitable for his style of football.
When the club did move finally move for Hull City’s Andy Robertson there was a collective shrug from many. Twelve months on and he is arguably one of the most important players in the team. If Klopp feels that Shaquiri could play some part for his side next season then surely he has earned the backing of supporters to make such a move.
Experience and quality
Much has been made of Shaqiri’s languid style and apparent lack of desire to track back and help out. However it is important to remember that the high press game utilised by Liverpool is quite unique in the Premier League. At Stoke City, he was their marquee player and expected create and score as often as possible as the side favoured results of style, therefore getting back and tackling was perhaps not drilled into him at The Potters
Indeed it was something of a coup when Stoke captured the Swiss international in 2015. The winger had previously been at Inter Milan and Bayern Munich where he won a Champions League winners medal. At only twenty-six he has already clocked up plenty of experience in the game which could well serve him if a move to Liverpool materialized. He would be unlikely to freeze at such a big club and he also possesses quick feet and the eye for a speculator goal. He could well endear himself to the fan base who like a flamboyant player.
Whether or not he could get involved in the demanding pressing game at Liverpool remains to be seen. If his attitude is poor then it is highly unlikely that Klopp has even looked at him. It is concerning to see that two big clubs have also let him go previously and despite being linked to a host of clubs three years ago, he ended up at mid-table side who went down last season.
Whatever happens though, he is clearly a talented player who deserves more consideration then merely a handful of games and clips. Klopp has pulled more obscure players out of the bag and made stellar successes of them, who’s to say he couldn’t do It with Shakiri?