When reports broke suggesting that Liverpool were in talks to sign Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri, opinions about the player seemed to greatly differ amongst the Reds’ fanbase.
Some see the potential deal as a wise investment, whilst others suggest that he will be a bad fit at Anfield.
To find out more about the Swiss star, and how he would possibly fit in at Anfield, I spoke to Pete Smith, the Stoke City and sports reporter of The Sentinel.
Here’s what he had to say.
1. Obviously, Stoke didn’t have a good 2017/18 season, but how did Shaqiri play as an individual?
Shaqiri was definitely more consistently productive than his first seasons, as his goal and assists records make clear. He’s a potential game changer but Stoke’s problem was that he was their only one, really, and teams knew if they stopped him, they stopped the whole team.
So he wasn’t good enough to shoulder the entire attacking burden but he was keen to suggest that Ronaldinho probably couldn’t have done enough on his own to keep that team up!
2. What would you say are his main strengths?
Superb technique and skill, he’s at his best when he’s got the freedom to try to embarrass a defender and there’s a real buzz when he finds space just outside the box, just to the right of centre and he shapes up to shoot.
3. When Liverpool were linked with Shaqiri, a few fans made comments about him having a sulky attitude, would you say that is accurate or is that an unfair perception?
It was a divided changing room at Stoke but he had the respect of each section – at least until he gave pretty forthright interviews about the lack of quality at the club.
He was definitely sulking for a good few months but largely because he was in a poor team that couldn’t win.
As a character, he’s cheeky and generous with his time. I found him very likeable.
4. There were also a few comments saying he can be lazy, which obviously wouldn’t suit a high-energy Liverpool side. Do you think he’d be able to cope in a side that presses and runs as much as Liverpool do?
Well, it was evident was that he felt players needed to be under a tighter leash with a more coherent plan than Stoke had in the last few months under Mark Hughes and either way, I think for the prices talked about, they can afford to take the risk.
If he buys into it, brilliant. If he doesn’t, he’s still a potential match winner from the bench.
5. Finally, Shaqiri has played pretty much every game for Stoke this summer, but he’d likely be used in rotation at Anfield. do you think he’d be ok with that?
After this experience, I think he’d prefer to be used in rotation in a successful team than a key man in a relegation fight.
Relegation fights, it is clear, are not for him. That’s not to say he doesn’t care – he’s been complaining of sleepless nights, in fact – but he’s in football to have fun.