Not everybody was convinced when Liverpool moved to sign Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City over the summer. Despite the player’s clear talent, following his early promise at Basel and big money move to Bayern Munich, his development seemed to stagnate.
The moment he scored a pre-season overhead kick against Manchester United, though, the mood shifted. And with every appearance he makes now it seems as though there is more and more good to say about the player and his performances in Liverpool red.
“He helped to give us a little bit more arrogance,” was Gini Wijnaldum’s response when asked about Shaqiri’s impact off the bench on Saturday against Cardiff City, when he helped push Liverpool to an eventual 4-1 victory over the struggling Bluebirds.
“He helped us to calm down the game again because they were pressing, they had a feeling that they could score the second goal and he took that away. After the 2-1 goal they thought they had a chance—which is normal—and so they were better in the game.”
For a few minutes, at least, Cardiff were in the game. Then Shaqiri calmly controlled a drilled square pass from Mohamed Salah, killing the ball’s momentum with his first touch and feinting right before going left and finishing cooly into the bottom corner.
It wasn’t just Wijnaldum who noticed his importance, as manager Jürgen Klopp also credited his impact off the bench while talking about how hard it had been to leave him out of the starting lineup after his strong mid-week performance against Belgrade.
What comes next for Shaqiri at Liverpool, then, is anybody’s guess. What’s clear, though, is that the 27-year-old Swiss international has won everybody—fans, coaches, and teammates—over in just a few short months at the club.