After getting frustrated waiting patiently for a chance that will probably never come, it looks like Xherdan Shaqiri is finally about to leave Liverpool.
The little Swiss magician, with his cheeky smile and calves that defies all known rules of biology, has been good for his transfer fee of 13 million pounds. In three years at Anfield, he has brought everything he has to the table – but a little bad luck with injuries and the high quality of the players in front of him means that he has lost the battle for regular first team football.
In a recent interview in Italy, he revealed that he wants to leave this summer, and there was a strong hint of a move to Lazio – where sports director Igli Tare shares his Albanian heritage.
The idea of a hungry, fit Shaqiri driving crazy in Serie A should arouse Lazio fans very much. His appearance at Euro 2020, which did three times when Switzerland made the quarter-finals, was a clue to his obvious creative ability, but it has been obvious throughout his time in Liverpool that there is a very good player in there – he has an average of one goals or an assist for every 146 minutes he is on the pitch.
He’s just unlucky to have ended up behind one of the best attacking tridents in modern football and never really found the consistency to beat one of them from perch.
Among Shaqiri’s highlights was the match-winning double against Manchester United in his first season, and that alone was enough to ensure that when he leaves Anfield, he will do so with the best wishes of all Liverpool fans with a sense of reason.
It was also an indicator of exactly what Lazio will get if the deal goes through. Shaqiri is a match winner, and while he will not give you a lung-pounding shift at either end of the field, he is exactly who you want to take that high-pressure shot from the edge of the box when the game is in balance.
At another time in history, he had been a hugely influential player at Anfield. There is no doubt that the player who curled up in the cross for Georginio Wijnaldum’s groundbreaking equalizer against Barcelona, and took apart Everton in a festive Merseyside derby, would have been a massive player if he had landed at Anfield just a few years earlier.
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A brilliant @ XS_11official match-winning double against @ManUtd from 2018? ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/TYM5Rs3I9D
– Liverpool FC (@LFC) 16 January 2021
But after three years of flying against the wind and hoping that pure endurance would pay off eventually, he has decided to quit.
And at 29, with two years to do his business, he’s probably doing it at the right time for everyone involved.