Dream, realistic, wildcard, Squawka suggests: Where next for Xherdan Shaqiri?

Dream, realistic, wildcard, Squawka suggests: Where next for Xherdan Shaqiri?

After the relegation of Stoke City last season, the departure of Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri seems all but certain. 

And with reports suggesting the player has a relegation clause in his contract, the exit of the former-Bayern man is basically academic.

But with two years left on his contract, and media outlets suggesting he will cost more than the £12m stipulated in his release clause, who will be the club most likely to go in for him, and where will he want to go?

He’s said himself that he’d like to stay in the Premier League, so, with that being said, here’s where we think Xherdan Shaqiri might end up.

Dream: Liverpool

Liverpool are the club that, at the time of writing, seem to be most interested in the signature of Shaqiri. It’s not hard to see why: though he hasn’t really lived up to his reputation as an elite talent while in Staffordshire, he still has the propensity to change games.

The Reds need to add quality depth to their brilliant attacking three of Mane, Firmino and Salah – noticeable last term was the steep drop off in attacking verve when one or more of them were absent. Shaqiri could be the first sub on for anyone of those three.

Last season was a good one for Shaqiri in a misfiring team, with eight goals and seven assists in the league to his name, and he looks set to be coming back from Russia after playing a starring role for Switzerland – a team in which he is unmistakably the fulcrum. Whoever signs Shaqiri may well get a pumped up, really quite muscular winger.

Should Klopp plump for the Gjilan-born footballer, who he faced several times with at Dortmund, he’ll be getting an attack-minded wide-player who, on paper, should be capable of tracking back and implementing the Klopp press. At the age of 26 and with the calibre of his previous employers, Shaqiri will be looking for a step up in every sense from Stoke, and Liverpool, with their enchanting counter-attacking performances last term, would be just that.

Realistic: West Ham

West Ham are thought to be on the lookout for an attacking midfielder, and, at the price point Shaqiri is likely to be available for, they could do much worse than sign the Swiss.

Shaqiri would be joining up once more with Marko Arnautovic, who apparently fell hook, line and sinker for David Moyes call for a bit more running from the Austrian last season.

Arnautovic had a strong campaign at the problematic London Stadium as the main man following his £25m transfer from Stoke, scoring 11 times in the Premier League.

It’s noticeable however that both Shaqiri and Arnautovic have prospered without the company of the other: Shaqiri’s eight goals last season was double that of the year before, when they were playing together – the year before that he managed three and the one previous just one; and Arnautovic’s 11-goal haul matches his best in 2015/16, albeit when they were both at Stoke.

Arnautovic’s improvement may be just as much a result of a composite of variables: a different attitude instilled by a manager, playing up top (alone) and the faith shown in him by West Ham.

So the issue of them not being at their best together may be moot or it may asymmetric, with Shaqiri’s goalscoring stifled somewhat with the presence of the Austrian, but more likely is the fact that Stoke seriously lacked a good striker last season, and Shaqiri was expected to step up.

Shaqiri to West Ham could be a good move for all involved: the Hammers could play Shaqiri and Lanzini off Arnautovic and keep things solid further back, and the Stoke winger joins a club that is in need of some more star dust but that is ostensibly on the up, while literally marooned in a retail park in Stratford.

Wildcard: Leicester

This may well be the most realistic and appropriate move, however, it is seemingly contingent on the transfer of Riyad Mahrez to Man City, who appears to be nearing a move to the Etihad.

The question then becomes one of, how analogous are Mahrez and Shaqiri, and will the signing of the latter suffice for Foxes fans when the former leaves?

As the above comparison shows, the players’ numbers are similar though Mahrez had the slightly more effective season. Leicester, however, were objectively stronger as a side and so this is ought to be factored in.

Mahrez scored 0.35 goals per 90 minutes, while Shaqiri managed 0.24. Similarly, the Algerian assisted 0.32 per 90 while Shaqiri managed 0.21. The Swiss created more chances however, with 2.27, to the 1.77 of Mahrez.

The City-bound trickster successfully took on opponents a fair bit more than Shaqiri however: 2.52 times per 90 to 1.18. The difference in pass completion meanwhile is negligible, just 1%.

Ultimately Shaqiri’s numbers could well come up in a better team and the change is somewhat like for like, though Mahrez stylistically is always likely to win out on take-ons – he likes bamboozling defenders too much. He would be a good replacement, though it’s doubtful Shaqiri can match the form of a really hot Mahrez, circa 2015/16.

Squawka suggests: Everton

The restructuring of Everton behind-the-scenes, coupled with the financial muscle Farhad Moshiri has brought to Goodison Park, makes the Merseyside club a truly intriguing proposition.

The appointments of new head coach Marco Silva and new Director of Football Marcel Brands suggests a club intent on a new direction, and one that is looking long-term, and all the noises from the club suggest as much.

Yes, they were awful last year for long spells and were insistent on signing all of the cumbersome No.10s in Europe last summer in lieu of a centre-forward, but that initial weirdness in the market, that strange juxtaposition between what seems possible and what actually happens on the pitch, is fairly consistent among newly moneyed clubs when things don’t click.

But now Big Sam is gone, Big Wayne is probably gone, and in there place has come Marco Silva, a genuinely exciting coach who worked some sort of magic at Watford before his head got turned by this very job and it all went to bits.

Everton have a decent squad, and it can only get better quite frankly with a more coherent vision on the pitch and in the transfer window; the capture of Shaqiri would be a smart way to start the summer, and would add genuine competition on the Toffees’ wings currently occupied by Theo Walcott and Yannick Bolasie.

The profile of the club: a big mid-table team that, theoretically, should be challenging the top six in the near-future, is in keeping with Shaqiri’s level and is exactly what he thought he was signing up for at Stoke.