Over the years, when transferring between Liverpool and Stoke City, there has generally been one-way traffic. Players age, or fail to make the grade at Liverpool and move on to Stoke City. That is the natural progression.
So it was with Peter Crouch, who reached the pinnacle in his career with Liverpool football club, before his slow descent brought him to Portsmouth, Spurs, and finally to Stoke City. His former teammate, Xherdan Shaqiri, on the other hand, broke this trend by making the big move from relegated Stoke to Merseyside.
Crouchy, never shy about saying a few nice words about Liverpool players, past and present, is full of praise for Shaqiri.
“Most training sessions are quickly forgotten. There are, however, mornings that stay in your mind forever,” Crouch writes for the Daily Mail. “When I think about Xherdan Shaqiri, I will always remember the day he introduced himself to us at Stoke in the most remarkable fashion.”
“Shaq scored a hat-trick in a five-a-side game. You might think there is nothing unusual about that but when I tell you one of his goals involved him chipping the goalkeeper from about eight yards you will appreciate why this stayed in my mind.
“He did other things that marked him out as different. It was the way he passed the ball, the pace he put on his passes and the quality of the free-kicks he struck. After that first session, I was convinced we had signed a star in the making.”
Indeed, at the time it was a coup for Stoke to sign the talented attacking player who couldn’t quite break into the ranks at Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. He distinguished himself as one of Stoke’s best players, but he could not fully showcase his skills without better talent around him.
While some Liverpool fans were not convinced of Shaq’s talent or ability to contribute at Anfield, Crouchy though the move would be a success.
“When he got his move to Anfield in the summer, I said to a few of the lads in our dressing room that he would go there and rip it up, and that is what he has been doing over the last few weeks.
“People say it is impossible to break up Liverpool’s three-man attack of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, but if anyone is going to do it, Shaqiri can. In terms of ability, he is up there with the best I’ve played with.”
That’s a strong endorsement from a man who has been around the block (a few times, in fact). Shaqiri has impressed so far at Liverpool, despite not yet scoring a goal. However, his 3 assists in just 260 minutes of Premier League and Champions League action (including the assist for Mohamed Salah’s decisive goal against Hudderfield) shows both his quality, and the potential for more.