Since he signed for Liverpool in July 2018, Xherdan Shaqiri has turned many LFC supporters from doubters to believers when it comes to his quality. I am well aware that I was one of only a handful of people who was sure that we were signing a fantastic player who simply needed the right conditions to thrive, and it is abundantly clear that the conditions at Liverpool Football Club are providing Shaqiri with exactly what he needs to be the best version of himself.
Jürgen Klopp knew exactly what Liverpool were getting, and on the day Shaqiri signed with the club, the boss told the official LFC website; “I think the English phrase to explain the decision to sign Xherdan is a ‘no-brainer’. When someone like him becomes available in this way you have to react if you are smart – and we have... From our perspective, he is someone who makes a big difference to the squad and team, because he can fit in so many positions in our system. Xherdan the person will fit in perfectly at Liverpool I believe. He has personality and drive – he is someone who will feed off the positive emotion of our crowd. He joins a dressing room of really good lads and I know they will welcome him with open arms and help him settle and integrate quickly.”
Klopp was right on the money! Shaqiri has adapted swiftly and smoothly to life at Melwood, and has found his way into the hearts of Liverpool fans everywhere since his debut in a Liverpool shirt against Manchester United in a pre-season friendly during the summer (not to mention that incredible overhead goal he scored). Shaqiri a.k.a. the Alpine Messi has made 17 appearances for Liverpool so far this season, nine of which have been starts. In that time, he has scored five goals (against Cardiff, Fulham, Burnley and two against Manchester United) and made five assists (two against Southampton and one each against Chelsea, Huddersfield and Red Star Belgrade).
Shaqiri believes that his relationship with Jürgen Klopp has had a significant impact on why he has been able to settle in as smoothly as he has at Liverpool, saying: “The manager is, for me, the most important thing. Also with the move – he wanted me to come here and from the beginning we had some very good conversations... I feel very good with him and it is important to have a good relationship with the coach. That’s important to be successful together and I hope we can have a lot of successful times at Liverpool.”
After Liverpool’s fantastic performance at Anfield this past Sunday when they beat Manchester United 3 - 1, Shaqiri feels adamant that the Reds can be title challengers as long as they maintain the same grit and quality, saying: “Our start to the season is amazing – a record in the club’s history. But we have to keep going, we have to take it game by game. I hope we can have a lot of games like this and try to win a lot of games. If we play like this we can have an amazing season.”
The ease with which Shaqiri has adapted to life at Liverpool has not gone unnoticed by his team mates and Andy Robertson has lauded his colleague for that and his contribution to the team since joining. “He is seizing his chance and good on him… Shaq has hit the ground running - quicker than I did - so credit to him,” the Scottish international captain said. “He has learned the way to play. He has been fantastic all season and a real threat for us and his stats this season are very good, so long may that continue.”
The mighty Reds sit atop of the Premier League table going into this coming weekend and remain one point clear of the defending champions, Manchester City.
The PL fixtures come in thick in fast over the Christmas period into the New Year and Shaqiri, who is no stranger to that after spending three years at Stoke City, believes that Liverpool has what it takes to be successful during the next run of games. “It is difficult but we have the quality to play like this, to stay like this, to stay focused on all these games,” he said. “We are going to have a lot of games and of course every team wants to beat you, but we want to be on a good run until the end of the season. When we play so many games like this it is very difficult, so we just have to stay focused for every game and work hard in training. Every game has its own story so we have to close the last game and prepare for the next one.”
I am sure that Shaqiri and the rest of the first team are geared to go for Friday’s evening’s Premier League fixture at the Molineux Stadium when they take on Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers. I know we as supporters definitely are. Be sure to check back with us here at LFC Offside as we keep you updated with all things Liverpool in the buildup to the match.