For a stretch of games last fall, it looked as if Liverpool had gotten a hell of a bargain from Stoke City. Xherdan Shaqiri’s £13 million price tag is peanuts in today’s market. Hell, his brace against Manchester United alone was worth it in the eyes of many supporters.
However, as the season wore on, Shaqiri’s star faded, and he dropped down the pecking order. He started the season just as he ended it: firmly behind Divock Origi as a first-choice attacking substitute.
With the injury to the Belgian striker, Shaqiri probably thought he’d be in line for a little more playing time. Indeed, he has been...to the tune of a combined 9 minutes against Newcastle and Napoli. So, perhaps we can sympathize when he laments his lack of playing time to the media.
“It is not easy for me, of course I am a little downbeat,” Shaq said in an interview with Teleclub. “You have to be able to handle that and you have to accept it, I was always still in the squad.
“You cannot ask the coach to play every match.”
Of course, there’s a big difference between playing “every match” and playing “meaningful minutes” every match.
Before we get out the torches and pitchforks, Shaq made sure to mention that he is happy at the club, and that he hopes to help end the current multi-decade title drought.
“I feel very comfortable here. We have a great coach, a great club. There’s a family feel. I hope we can bring the Premier League back to Liverpool after 30 years.”
It’s never a great look when a player spouts off to the media about playing time, but I think we can have some sympathy for Shaq here. He has looked good when getting a run of games, and contributed in meaningful moments against Newcastle and Barcelona last season.
However, he doesn’t seem to slot in as well in Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 system as when the gaffer decides to roll out a 4-2-3-1. As such, it will be interesting to see Klopp’s approach as Origi recovers, and whether he is willing to change systems to accommodate Shaqiri as an attacking option, or continue with his preferred set up, perhaps opting for Rhian Brewster over the experienced Swiss international.
Either way, there’s always the League Cup.