The news of Chelsea's rising interest in Mohamed Salah has dealt a massive blow to Liverpool's chances of signing the Basel winger, with BBC Sport reporting earlier in the week that the Blues had agreed on an £11 million deal for his services.
However, it's another wide asset with ties to the Swiss outfit who could yet pull Brendan Rodgers' side out of a transfer lurch, after it emerged that Xherdan Shaqiri is being eyed up as an alternative, per Charles Perrin of the Express.
One would normally assume that any secondary option is inferior to the primary target, a step down from previous intentions, but such is not the case with Bayern Munich's squad player.
According to Perrin's report, Liverpool believe that an offer of £17 million would be enough to lure the 22-year-old to Anfield.
It's a hefty fee considering Salah could end up costing Chelsea only two-thirds of that amount, but Shaqiri has the added advantage of having already proven himself in one of Europe's elite leagues since making his own switch from Basel in 2012.
It's unsurprising that chances have been slightly limited at the Allianz Arena since then. Reigning European Player of the Year Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben occupy their spots on the Bayern wings with dominance, and Shaqiri has made just 34 Bundesliga appearances over the course of the last 18 months, per Transfermarkt.
With only half that number coming as part of the starting XI, it's been a frustrating period for the speed merchant, but Merseyside could yet be the site of a first-team revival.
Back in December, the New York Times' Stefan Bienkowski favoured Shaqiri as a more suitable player to fill in during the absence of an injured Robben:
So far this term, Raheem Sterling has been among Rodgers' most consistent wingers, while Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson have also occupied places on the flanks, Victor Moses being among the less impressive.
Shaqiri is similar to Salah in that he's capable of playing off either side of the pitch and has proven himself capable of playing through more central outlets, although it's likely that Coutinho would continue to reign as key constructor there.
In 73 Swiss Super League starts, the starlet scored 18 goals and made 19 assists for Basel, per Transfermarkt—which was incredible at the time, given that most of those numbers came while he was still but a teenager.
That development hasn't been nurtured as prominently as some might have hoped since opting for a move to Germany, but Liverpool's project of acquiring young and upcoming talent could certainly be a better mold in terms of growth.
Squawka shows that when Shaqiri has been given a chance, however, his more amicable traits are still there. Winning an average 69 percent of all his duels, Bastian Schweinsteiger is the only other regular first-team player with a higher ratio.
What's more, that facet of his game includes winning 16 of his 19 attempted dribbles against opposition players, a success rate that some Liverpool attackers could do with taking note of.
As Opta Jean proclaim, the youngster was also highly impressive at this year's FIFA Club World Cup final:
Expensive though the deal may be, Liverpool are yet to tie up any business this winter, and one significant investment could yet solve one of the more worrying depth issues in the Reds' squad.
Shaqiri would admittedly be taking a step down from last season's treble winners if he were to switch to Anfield, but it's a decision that neither party would regret in the long run.
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