Xherdan Shaqiri fell out of favour last season. However, Liverpool have lacked a creative spark over their last three games and, with a crunch clash coming up against Manchester United, it is integral they find it again. Shaqiri looked sharp in the FA Cup last Friday, and may be the man to reignite The Reds.
But will he feature from the start, as a substitute, or will Klopp opt for another player in his place?
Shaqiri’s finest moment in a red shirt came against Manchester United, in December 2018. He scored two late goals, as Liverpool beat their rivals 3-1. After scoring the first goal he stood in front of the Kop, arms folded. He looked like an alpine emperor soaking in adulation from his Kopite kingdom. Cult hero status beckoned.
This was the maestro’s pinnacle, and from here he drifted from the first-team. However, things have come full circle, and the upcoming match against United may haul Shaq back in to contention.
There is no doubt that Shaqiri brings quality to the current Liverpool squad. He can drift inside and operate as a ten, or use his quick feet to create chances as a traditional winger. He boasts a powerful shot, and can open up defences with a diminutive pass. Liverpool have scored only once in their past three Premier League games. Therefore, Shaqiri is a natural remedy for their current attacking woes.
However, the Swiss international lacks the work-rate and discipline to feature regularly for Liverpool. Klopp demands a high level of intensity, and should a player not provide this then the system suffers. It is for this reason, alongside a host of injuries, that Xherdan made just 11 first team appearances last season. Therefore, Shaqiri is likely to miss out on a starting berth, as Klopp will play a more solid midfield.
It is possible that this will suit the attacker, as he has more of an impact from the bench. His previous efforts against United occurred during a 20 minute cameo, and he was an effective substitute against Villa last week. His explosiveness is a nightmare for tiring defenders, who struggle with Shaqiri’s technique having dealt with Liverpool’s famous front three for the game’s opening exchanges.
The likelihood is that Shaqiri will start on the bench, and be Liverpool’s most dangerous reserve. Following Diogo Jota’s injury, the Reds have not had much depth in attack. Origi has been poor, Minamino inconsistent and The Ox unfit. Therefore, should Liverpool need a goal then Klopp will almost definitely turn to the Swiss international.
The stage is set for Xherdan Shaqiri to replicate his 2018 heroics. It is unlikely that he will start, but a potent substitute cameo looks inevitable. United’s form has been ominous, and there is no doubt that Klopp will need the Alpine Messi at his best in order to stop The Red Devils. Judging by his recent cameo, Shaqiri looks ready.