Nabil Fekir this, Nabil Fekir that – the headlines back in the summer featured a certain diminutive Frenchman a lot more than many of us would’ve liked, and to no avail as Liverpool pulled out of the deal to sign him.
Many Reds supporters feared that their ready made Philippe Coutinho replacement had fizzled out before their eyes, but little did they know, he was right under their noses throughout the whole Fekir-related mourning process.
At present, the only difference between Coutinho in a red shirt and Xherdan Shaqiri in a red shirt is that one was right footed and one is left footed. The Switzerland international has been involved in five goals for the Merseyside-based club since arriving from Stoke in a £12m deal, with two goals and three assists in just five starts in all competitions.
For whatever the reason, Jurgen Klopp has not played the 27-year-old consistently so far this season – we all know that the German likes to rotate, but his creative sources in midfield are extremely limited.
The Reds have Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Fabinho and Naby Keita to choose from to play in a midfield three as well as Shaqiri; out of all of them, the former Bayern Munich man, and to an extent Keita and Lallana, are the only consistently creative ones.
In fairness, Milner did break the record for most assists in a Champions League campaign last term as Liverpool reached the final, but he is more renowned for his off-the-ball work in Klopp’s system, leaving someone else to fill the creative void.
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When everyone is fit, it is of the general understanding that most Liverpool fans would ideally like to see a midfield trio of Fabinho, Keita and Shaqiri – the Brazilian sat deep, whilst the Guinean and Shaqiri play ahead of him on the left and right respectively.
As Coutinho did so often when teams sat deep, his long range shooting ability and eye for a killer pass would be the difference between one point and three for the Reds. Shaqiri has the talent to replicate that point-winning form if he is given the platform to do so.
All he needs is Klopp’s trust. With that, and quality players around him, Shaqiri can unquestionably be the difference maker – with talent like his, he should also be exempt of rotation, unless he needs a rest.
Should the Swiss star be one of the first names on the team-sheet? Have your say down below…