Xherdan Shaqiri can prove Gary Neville wrong by channelling Eric Cantona this season

If Xherdan Shaqiri’s first game in a Liverpool shirt was anything to go by, fans have every reason to be excited for the year ahead.

The Swiss international announced himself to the new fans by providing a clever assist for Daniel Sturridge and then proceeded to score a stunning bicycle kick in a 4-1 victory against Manchester United.

Admittedly it was only a 45 minute cameo in a pre-season tour against a very weak United team, but it’s hard not to get excited by such a dominant performance.

Liverpool fans after the game rushed to mock Gary Neville after the former United defender heavily criticised Shaqiri at the World Cup for being lazy and not helping the team’s cause.

Gary Neville on Xherdan Shaqiri

The midfielder registered the most goals and the most assists for Stoke City last season and averaged over two key passes per game in a struggling side which ended up being relegated to the Championship.

He was one of the very few standout players in an average team but he faced criticism for not tracking back and often appearing disinterested and frustrated with his teammates’ limitations.

Neville labelled this attitude ‘unprofessional’ in his role as a pundit at the World Cup and said that he wouldn’t want players like that in his team.

However, Jurgen Klopp clearly thought differently and signed the magician for the bargain price of £13million this summer.

The German manager doesn’t allow for passengers in his sides – even striker Roberto Firmino is famed for his defensive duties for Liverpool and Klopp’s heavy metal style of football requires all eleven players to work as one cohesive unit in attack as well as defence.

Therefore, in one sense it could seem strange that Klopp has signed a player so recognised for his lack of team discipline and his individualism.

But in another sense, this signing could be the most important one Liverpool have made this summer, even though it was the least expensive and glamorous.

Shaqiri showed at the World Cup that he can put a shift in when required, and in the four games he played in Russia, he averaged more tackles, blocks and interceptions than he did at Stoke last season.

Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates goal against Serbia

When surrounded by better players and fighting for a cause he believes in, he can put in the work that you would expect, although it’s not exactly the most flattering assessment of a professional footballer.

At Liverpool he will no longer be carrying the team and shouldn’t feel frustrated because the players surrounding him are some of the best in the division.

He’s never going to chase down a lost cause in the same way that Jordan Henderson would and that’s what might give the Reds the edge they need next season.

In many ways, the move has a lot of similarities to Eric Cantona’s transfer from Leeds to Manchester United.

The King had a similar swagger and self-interest to Shaqiri and he was also never one to run for 90 minutes covering every blade of grass, instead saving himself for those deft touches and moments of magic that live long in the memory of United fans.

When Cantona joined United, the club were in eighth position in the newly formed Premier League, falling behind Arsenal and Norwich City.

Come the end of the season, the Red Devils won the league by a substantial ten points, owing a great deal to the goals and assists of the Frenchman.

The confidence and self-belief he exuded was infectious and he gave the fans something to cheer whenever he got the ball, and he wasn’t expected to chase down opposition attacks.

Shaqiri is that same player, offering moments of magic combined with the arrogance of knowing only he can pull them off.

This could be what Klopp has been missing when Liverpool have come unstuck against teams at the bottom end of the division, losing away at Swansea last season and drawing to West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City last season.

Shaqiri can be the key to unlock those stubborn defences and will offer something completely different to Liverpool’s cohesive team unit which could give them the edge they need as they hunt for their first Premier League title.