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Klopp Hails ‘Fantastic Boy’ Shaqiri

It’s been an encouraging couple of weeks for the Swiss international.

Liverpool FC v Southampton FC - Premier League
Thiccer than a bowl of oatmeal.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The path players take to reach their career pinnacle is frequently unpredictable. Some climb the ranks at their childhood club; others move along the pipeline from club to more illustrious club until they find their eventual summit; and others still experience myriad ups and downs, as their talent development fails to mirror their expected path.

Xherdan Shaqiri definitely belongs in the latter category. When the Swiss prodigy made the move from Bayern to Inter to Stoke over the course of a mere six months, many raised an eyebrow at the career trajectory of the Powercube. When he failed to make much of an impact with the Potters in his first year, the assumption was that the once so bright starlet was about to quietly burn out in the English midlands.

A relegation and associated £13m release clause later, though, Shaqiri found himself at Anfield, a-probably-but-not-officially replacement for Nabil Fekir, whose £50m transfer fell through on account of the Frenchman’s stupid, fragile knees. Questions about his weight and attitude were quickly brushed aside by the power of Jürgen Klopp’s approval, as well as an outstanding overhead kick to put Manchester United to the sword in pre-season.

The 27-year old was given his debut in the opening match of the season, and to date, has appeared in 11 of the club’s 17 matches. Has Die Kraftwürfel lived up to expectations?

“Yeah, or even more. What can I say?” Klopp told Liverpool’s official site.

“He’s just a fantastic boy on top, that’s really good, and he knows that he has so much potential still to improve.

“But of course he’s the guy for decisive moments, that’s how it is, and we have to make sure that it stays like this. Another really good performance and a fantastic goal on top, so it’s really cool.”

Indeed, two goals and three assists in only 400-odd minutes is excellent return on a squad player bought cheaply from a Championship side. The fact that the former Basel wonderkid entertains with his energy on the ball, odd-fitting jackets, goblin faces, penchant for hanging onto Klopp hugs just a little longer than others, and overall thiccness is just a delightful bonus on top of the production.

Whether Shaqiri can consistently force his way into the starting XI when Naby Keïta, Adam Lallana and James Milner are all fit and firing remains to be seen, but the early returns on Liverpool’s bargain gamble are looking overwhelmingly positive.

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