When Xherdan Shaqiri arrived at Stoke City in summer 2015, many tipped the former Bayern Munich midfielder to take Stoke City to the next level and complete the philosophical revolution Mark Hughes had attempted to bring to the Potteries.
So far, though, that simply hasn’t happened. Shaqiri’s undoubted technical quality has only been evident in fits and spurts – the odd goal of the month contender and a return of just seven goals and eight assists from his opening two campaigns – and Stoke have failed to escape the realms of solid mid-table.
This season, however, we’ve seen a new level of consistency to the Swiss international’s game. He’s produced as many goals and assists combined, six, as last season already, including a strike and a setup in a Man of the Match display against Leicester City on Saturday.
In addition to peeling free of Harry Maguire and Christian Fuchs to open Stoke’s account with a curled finish and applying the assist from a corner for Peter Crouch’s late equaliser, the 26-year-old was a thorn in the Foxes’ defence all afternoon, finishing up with three shots, five created chances and four accurate crosses to his name.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go before the end of May and we have seen Shaqiri – who Transfermarkt value at £13.5million – produce streaks of hot form before only for them to soon peter out.
But the early signs suggest this could be the season in which the 64-cap international finally emerges as the talismanic entity Stoke fans hoped for three summers ago. And with the Potters enduring a somewhat mixed start to new campaign, the timing couldn’t be better.