Liverpool are looking to add to their four summer signings of this transfer window so far, and the latest name linked to the Reds is Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich.
Jamie Sanderson of Metro has reported that the Reds are willing to pay up to £20 million to land the winger, though the report also states that the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes to sign him for "a bargain price"—presumably the same or less than the £10 million that Bayern paid to sign the Swiss international.
While the deal may seem a fanciful one on first glance, it is certainly the type of name and quality of player that Liverpool fans will be happy to see linked with their team after missing out on Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Why Shaqiri Fits as a Liverpool Target
Technically strong, young and versatile, Shaqiri ticks all the most immediate boxes to consider.
While his price tag may be extremely high, he comes with a big reputation and has shown over the past 12 months his ability to contribute and compete at the highest level, making 40 appearances in all competitions for Bayern as they won the league, domestic cup and Champions League.
Capable of playing on either flank in a front three, Shaqiri is good at running at defenders with the ball at his feet and then finding a telling pass or shot at the end of the dribble.
Not a traditional winger by any means, Shaqiri is a good passer, is calm in possession and would bring a new threat to the front line at Anfield.
How Signing him Helps out the Team
Liverpool need to add at least one first-team signing to their ranks in the final third of the pitch, whether it be a central No. 10 or an attacker who can play from the flanks.
Shaqiri would perhaps be most used on the right side of attack, leaving Philippe Coutinho central in the playmaking role. Shaqiri's pace and movement would give plenty of chances to the Brazilian to pick him out with his great passing and vision, while his ability to cut infield of course offers more support to the likes of Fabio Borini or Daniel Sturridge up front.
Liverpool will certainly need increased amounts and better quality of supporting runs from other areas of the attack again next season if the team is to progress on the pitch, and a wide-right forward capable of getting into good goalscoring positions would certainly aid in this regard.
Shaqiri is also capable of tracking back to help his full-back, and while certainly not the most defensive-minded of wide players, is conscientious in his work moving away from goal.
From the opposite side, playing as more of a winger, he can help to keep width high up the field when necessary and work short-range crosses in combination plays with the central midfielders and the left-sided full-back.
Take your pick, and we'll start with the most obvious; would a player with no ties to a club want to leave the best team in the entire continent last season to play for said club who aren't even in the Europa League?
There are undeniably good reasons for leaving Bayern for Liverpool—a more all-round competitive league, another of Europe's biggest historical sides, the obvious progress and challenge in the rebuilding going on now—but there are similarly reasons to stick right where he is.
With the greatest of respect to the current Liverpool squad, Stewart Downing or Iago Aspas could be his main competition for a right-sided berth at Anfield. Thomas Muller or Arjen Robben are at Bayern.
He may also cost even more than the £20 million mentioned, and while that initially wouldn't be a huge difficulty, there will be a limit to how high the club will go, especially if they have other areas they want to spend in.
The player may not even be available at present, if new boss Pep Guardiola has earmarked him for a bigger role in the season ahead, as more recently intimated by the same source at Metro.
It's not, immediately at least, a transfer which could be looked at and given a simple thumbs-up. But if there is genuine intent on the part of Liverpool, the club needs to go all-out to bring in an attacker of this type of quality.
A front line of Coutinho, Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge looks extremely entertaining, with plenty of pace, vision, ability on the ball and a direct approach to goal in the final third.
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