With Liverpool back in the Champions League next season, the pulling power of playing in the famous red shirt has once again been restored.
The signings of Rickie Lambert and Emre Can have made Brendan Rodgers’ ambitions clear for all to see, though another star is reportedly on the manager’s radar.
As Nick Lustig of the Daily Star revealed, Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri for a fee in the region of £15 million.
With the Swiss international failing to be given much of a chance at the Allianz Arena, making just 17 Bundesliga appearances last season according to WhoScored.com, the door is now open for Liverpool to swoop in and seal his signature.
Recently speaking about his desire for first-time football, the 22-year-old revealed that a switch to English shores is a real possibility, per Metro:
I don’t want to go through another year like this. We will see what happens, but I only want to play for a major club – the Champions League is important to me. England would be an option. If I were to leave Bayern, it will be for a foreign club. But it will have to be a club challenging for the title.
Reds fans have been sceptical as to what exactly that 26-year-old will offer at Anfield, and with two bids ranging from £20 million to £25 million now rejected by the Saints, seeing Liverpool part with £30 million for Lallana wouldn’t be an intelligent piece of business.
Though a talented player and part of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup 2014 setup with England, Rodgers’ system of playing three forward players with bags of pace and finishing prowess means that Shaqiri is a better fit than Lallana at Anfield.
With a similar playing style to latest Liverpool sensation Raheem Sterling, Shaqiri’s skill on the ball and ability to adapt to any forward position makes him one of the hottest properties in world football. However, with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on top of their game for Bayern, his chances have been few and far between.
Though his class is without question, the fact that Shaqiri would be half the price of Lallana is another reason why Rodgers should lean towards the Switzerland star.
It’s another classic case of an English player being overpriced—the reason for which is still baffling based on the national team—meaning that Liverpool could potentially sign Shaqiri and another world-class talent for their Lallana kitty.
Former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman recently agreed that £30 million is too much for the Southampton skipper, as he told Squawka:
I think that you have to have a cut-off point. Seemingly, from what I understand, Liverpool’s cut-off point is £25 million, that’s what’s been intimated, that £25 million is the last possible option they could go to and then they’ll look elsewhere. Let’s be honest, £25 million nowadays is a hell of a lot of money. When you are buying from other Premier League teams and you’re buying English talent, that seems to be the going rate. There’s talk of them looking at Xherdan Shaqiri who’s not been playing much at Bayern [Munich]. You can get different options, foreign options, unfortunately, from better teams abroad.
Squawka also revealed exactly what Lallana can bring to the table via its Twitter account, reporting that the 26-year-old is a chance-creating master of sorts:
However, Shaqiri’s statistics of 25 chances created in just 17 Bundesliga matches take the 22-year-old’s numbers above Lallana, per Squawka.
According to SoccerWay, Lallana played 3,099 league minutes last season compared to Shaqiri’s 782. The 25 chances that the Bayern man created in that time means that if he had been given the same game time as Lallana, he would have made 99 chances, dwarfing Lallana’s total.
It’s hard to prove such a statistic, sure, but it rather sums up what Shaqiri is all about; he also found the net six times and grabbed two assists during his short time on the pitch with Bayern.
Shaqiri also fits the Liverpool transfer policy perfectly—at just 22 years of age and a multi-purpose player, the Swiss star has several years of glory ahead of him. The question remains, though: Will he be reaching his prime in red?
While some Liverpool fans will be screaming for the transfer of Lallana, having the option of Shaqiri means that they need not panic if the England man stays at St. Mary’s next term.
Moving up to a Champions League club will be a massive step for Lallana, but Shaqiri thrives among Europe’s elite. With top-level football back at Anfield next term, the Reds need a similarly top-level player to enjoy a successful campaign, and Shaqiri has all the credentials to be the man for the job.