The Reds aren’t going after Gwyneth Paltrow, the star of that 1998 film set in London—although with the number of players the club are often linked to, you wouldn’t be surprised if her name popped up eventually—but there now seems to be a clear question that confronts them.
Just like how we saw life play out differently for Paltrow’s character in the film—with one version of her getting onto a train on the London Underground and the other version missing it—you can now see two separate realities playing out for Liverpool in the season ahead, one in which they sign Southampton and England’s Adam Lallana and the other in which they recruit Bayern Munich and Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri.
The newspapers, it seems, can’t make up their minds, with both players linked to the club repeatedly.
The Daily Star’s Jack Wilson is the latest to link Saints skipper Lallana with a move to Anfield along with club teammate Dejan Lovren, while in contrast the Daily Mail’s Simon Jones appears equally convinced that talks have been opened with Bayern for Shaqiri, who is currently starring for his country at the World Cup.
Given the amounts spent on both Rickie Lambert and Emre Can and the fact that Lallana and Shaqiri operate in similar roles in the team you have to suspect that only one of them will be signed, but which one, and how would Liverpool’s season pan out with one of them in the team as opposed to the other?
We’ll probably never know the answer, but it’s fun to speculate.
With the Reds’ interest in Lallana having been public since the end of April, as per the Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter, it might be seen as a disappointment were they to miss out on the Southampton captain.
But the protracted negotiations have now seen the price for Lallana head toward the £30 million mark according to ESPN, a vast sum for any player—certainly one who is 26 years old.
Do the positives of the deal outweigh the negatives, though? If Liverpool were to recruit Lallana then they’d possess four of the six players who made the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award in 2013/14, with the new recruit joining Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and eventual winner Luis Suarez in a fairly formidable Premier League force.
As we’ve seen with some of Liverpool’s big-money English signings before, though, an exorbitant price tag can bring with it huge pressure. Perhaps the sideshow of being “Liverpool’s £30 million man” will affect Lallana and have a negative impact on Liverpool as a result.
In contrast, Shaqiri is four years younger at 22 and—according to that Daily Mail report above—seemingly a lot cheaper, too.
A small, squat figure, he relies on explosions of pace and power to impress, as opposed to Lallana’s often silkier touches and qualities.
You could suggest that Shaqiri’s game suits the style Liverpool played with for the majority of last season, as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge often hared toward goal in the opening stages of matches.
As is often the case with recruits from abroad, adapting to the Premier League could be seen as an issue for the Swiss, but when you’ve shone in the Champions League for both FC Basel and Bayern Munich, there really isn’t much you should be scared of.
Indeed, Shaqiri could find himself having a far greater impact in that competition for the Reds as he perhaps swaps Premier League duty with Philippe Coutinho.
His hunger and desire to prove himself, which seems to be a main factor in taking him away from an overcrowded Bayern midfield, would be welcomed at Anfield. Of course, there is also the question of the fee involved, with the £10 million or so the Reds would save on him perhaps being used to strengthen their defence.
All of this is conjecture, of course, and you can never be too certain when discussing football transfers.
Liverpool might end the summer with neither Lallana nor Shaqiri, and that would hardly be a catastrophe given the fine performances the Reds put in with their squad last season. But given his age, price and the Reds’ current way of playing, you’d have to suspect that the Swiss would be the better way to go.
But whether it's Lallana or Shaqiri who gets through the sliding doors, they will be in for an exciting ride.