With his Liverpool career needing a jumpstart, Xherdan Shaqiri announced his desire to be excluded from international duty with Switzerland over the break. Shaqiri told the Swiss coach that he would rather stay at home and keep his work rate up on the Melwood training ground.
It’s a sensible decision. But since that time speculation has emerged. Rumours suggest Shaqiri’s reason for bowing out of the Swiss camp has more to do with being overlooked for the captain’s armband.
That honor went to Granit Xhaka, whose best attribute on the pitch is still his name. The Arsenal midfielder will lead the Swiss side out in place of Stephan Lichtsteiner who, like Shaqiri, chose to remain with his club to focus his efforts domestically. Curious.
Xhaka did his best damage control when asked to comment on Shaqiri’s absence.
“I can only speak about how important he is for this team,” said Xhaka. “He is a great player, great quality. He can help us in every game and we are very disappointed that he is not here.
”But we have other players as well who have quality.
“I don’t want to speak about why and what happened, because I don’t know the reasons exactly, but we’ve lost a big player for these games.”
Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic also gave a measured reading of the situation.
“He thought the best thing was not to come,” said Petkovic. “I’ve accepted that. We spoke to Xherdan regularly and we decided to do this. There was no sense having him come if he could not give 100%.”
It’s unclear where this rumour of Shaqiri’s irritation originated. But Xhaka went on to offer the captaincy to his compatriot if that would indeed resolve the issue and return Xherdan to the team.
“If the captain’s band really is the problem, then we can sit together at one table,” said Xhaka. “We are grown up enough to talk about it.
“If he really has a problem about that, then he may like the captain’s armband. That’s no problem for me. It does not matter to me if I have it.
”I want to give everything to the team, whether that’s with the band or without.”
It’s much ado about nothing or else there’s something rotten in Switzerland. Petkovic did suggest that relations between Xherdan and Granit were not great.
“It’s okay, could be better,” said Petkovic. “But I don’t want to be pessimistic or negative right now.”
The plot thickens into a cold cream sauce.