Fletcher compares Stoke teammate to Messi

Stoke City midfielder Darren Fletcher has branded Xherdan Shaqiri “a top quality player”, and claimed that the Swiss has similar characteristics to Lionel Messi.

Fletcher is a new signing at the Britannia Stadium having made the move from West Bromwich Albion in this summer’s transfer window.

Shaqiri, on the other hand, has represented the Potters since a 2015 move from Inter Milan.

The 25-year-old has thus far struggled to find his best form in England, but Fletcher has paid tribute to the qualities of the attacker, comparing the 62-time Switzerland international to Barcelona’s Messi due to his “low centre of gravity”.

Fletcher told The Stoke Sentinel:

“He’s a top quality player, you can see that. He has great strength, receives the ball, is sharp. Things happen when he gets the ball, which is important. You need your match winners, you need your mavericks, and he’s definitely one of those.

“I’m not saying he’s Messi, but he’s got that same low centre of gravity and he can get past you.

“So he really is hard to get a handle on. He’s a fantastic footballer. You can talk about his strength and his size, but the biggest thing is that his first touch is fantastic.”

Stoke, who suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Sheffield United on Tuesday night, will continue their preparations for the new campaign with a trip to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Mark Hughes’ side will open their 2017-18 Premier League campaign with a trip to Everton on August 12.