According to reports in The Mirror on June 4, Southampton are said to be willing to pay the £12m release clause in Xherdan Shaqiri’s contract following Stoke City’s relegation to the Championship.
Despite a decent campaign for the 5ft 7in attacker in which he scored eight goals and provided a further seven assists in 36 Premier League appearances, his impact in the final third wasn’t enough to save the Potters from the drop.
Despite playing for the likes of Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and FC Basel during his playing career – as well as scoring a hat-trick at the 2014 World Cup for Switzerland – he has failed to make the grade at big clubs over a long period of time, which resulted in him joining Stoke in 2016.
The winger has certainly impressed for the Staffordshire-based outfit since then, although sometimes his lack of consistency for them shows why he is no longer playing for one of the biggest clubs in European football.
While new Potters manager Gary Rowett may well want to keep hold of him as they look to secure an immediate return to the top flight, he will know that an exit is more likely with the player surely wanting to continue playing in the Premier League.
The boss that brought him to England – Mark Hughes – is said to be ready to be reunited with him as he looks to boost the south coast’s options following their own narrow escape from falling into England’s second tier, in a 2017/18 campaign where they only netted 37 times in their 38 league fixtures.
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They were without Sofiane Boufal for the final five games of a crucial run-in following an altercation between the volatile attacker and Hughes after the 3-2 defeat to Chelsea in April, and the Moroccan’s time with Saints has largely been a disaster – he has scored just four times and provided a further three assists in 59 appearances in all competitions.
His attitude has often been called into question, and the same can be said of Shaqiri in the past as they seem to be similar characters – both hugely talented but with a questionable mentality.
The 26-year-old had the perfect opportunity to make a big impression in his nation’s opening 2018 World Cup fixture when they faced the pre-tournament favourites Brazil on Sunday, and while he showed glimpses of the quality that he has and provided the assist for Steven Zuber’s header, he also showcased his bad points, too.
The attacker proved that he is a luxury player that isn’t willing to track back and defend, with his teammate and Arsenal new-boy Stephan Lichtsteiner often left with a two-on-one situation when Marcelo bombed forward, and Shaqiri often seen walking back to his own half rather than running, or not bothering at all.
Given they only just avoided relegation last season Southampton, who should sign a £22.5m La Liga star after missing out on James Maddison to Leicester City, will surely be looking for a bit of consolidation next term in order to ensure they don’t find themselves in a similar predicament again, and while the 26-year-old clearly has the talent to help the south coast outfit in the final third, his lack of defensive work would surely be a concern for Hughes.
If the Welshman does end up paying the £12m fee to bring the Switzerland international to St Mary’s, it would prove to be his biggest mistake since he initially became Saints boss back in March.
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