Xherdan Shaqiri. Flying at the start of the season, then disappears off the face of the Earth after Christmas.
That is how it has felt, at least. The attacking midfielder seemed to slot into Klopp’s plans almost seamlessly, As a playmaker, he was able to offer just enough variety to the usually transition focused attack to make the team an even more versatile threat. As a goalscoring winger, he got into excellent positions to receive tap ins from his team mates, as well as a few more impressive individual finishes. It looked like Shaqiri was exactly the player this Liverpool team needed.
And now, he hardly plays.
There has been a somewhat unkind theory, with former Stoke team mate (and, of course, ex-Liverpool right back) Glen Johnson questioning his attitude.
“When things were going well, he’d be a big player for us [at Stoke] and he’d perform”, Johnson told BBC Radio 5Live. “When things weren’t going well, he’d be hit and miss. That was obvious to see.
“Most likely. Jurgen won’t deal with [his attitude] – he’ll put it to bed.”
It certainly would be disappointing if Shaqiri’s attitude was causing problems behind the scenes, considering his obvious talent and good fit for the side. The well connected Neil Jones of Goal, however, has a slightly different take on things, surely informed by his sources at the club.
Jones argues that Shaqiri can at times be too unpredictable, offering variety but at times leaving the team exposed. “[Klopp’s] worry with Shaqiri, even when he was playing well individually, was that Liverpool looked too open with him hogging the right touchline”, he said.
“For that to work, it requires smart movement from the wide players. Salah and Sadio Mane, drilled in the Klopp way, naturally create space to work the ball wide. Shaqiri, who traditionally plays wider and looks to cut in on his wonderful left foot, can change the dynamic somewhat.
“His work-rate has actually been pretty good, but his positional play can improve.”
The return to 4-3-3 has surely been a negative from Shaqiri’s perspective, with him no longer having an obvious place in the side, though one would still expect him to get minutes over Origi. Whatever the truth is, we here at The Liverpool Offside would like to see more of him.