On Friday evening Liverpool confirmed the signing of Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri for £13.5 million after triggering his release clause.
The 26-year-old became available in the summer after The Potters were relegated from the Premier League following a decade-long stay in the top flight.
The Swiss international had a release clause built into his contract that allowed him to depart the Bet365 Stadium for a relatively small fee if the club ever dropped into the Championship, making him one of the potential bargains of the transfer window.
Shaqiri signed for Stoke in the summer of 2015 from Inter Milan for a then club record fee of £12 million and was seen as a major coup at the time for The Potters.
He became an integral part of the team over the following three seasons where his creativity on the ball and knack of scoring goals at vital moments in games helped the club to successive ninth-place finishes.
However, The Potters have fallen apart in the last twelve months and ultimately ended the previous campaign by being relegated to The Championship.
Despite this, Shaqiri was one of the few players that walked away from the season with any credit. He was forced to shoulder the responsibility of being Stoke’s only attacking threat and was directly responsible for almost half of the team’s goals in the Premier League – scoring eight and earning seven assists.
It should be noted that the 26-year-old was not unanimously appreciated or adored by all Stoke supporters. Detractors suggested that he could be lethargic, was prone to picking up niggling injuries and simply lacked the consistency that was expected from a player with such a high-profile reputation.
What will he bring to Liverpool?
The Swiss international moved to the top of Liverpool’s transfer wish list after a move for Lyon midfielder Nabil Fekir broke down with the deal seemingly all but done. This has subsequently left Klopp needing to consider alternative targets and it is little surprise that he has turned his attention towards Stoke City’s one-time club record signing.
Shaqiri was available at a reduced fee of £13.5 million, a drop in the ocean when viewed in the context of modern transfers, due to a release clause that became active following Stoke’s relegation.
Considering Liverpool were within hours of reportedly spending £53 million on Fekir, Shaqiri’s arrival for a much lesser fee leaves Klopp with ‘extra’ cash which can be invested in strengthening other areas of the team.
Furthermore, the Swiss international’s versatility also made him an attractive prospect. He is equally adept playing as a winger, attacking midfielder or in the hole behind the striker, meaning that he can fit seamlessly into any of the forward positions used in Klopp’s dynamic Liverpool side.
It is not as if Shaqiri is an unknown quantity either. He already has a vast amount of experience playing for a host of top European clubs, including winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2013, whilst he has also been a central feature in the Swiss national team.
In effect, Shaqiri represents a gamble for Liverpool that is cost effective and has the potential to turn into the bargain of the summer.
At worst, the 26-year-old will be a useful squad player that can provide cover for numerous forward positions and has only required limited investment. At best, if Klopp can help Shaqiri find greater consistency in his game, then Liverpool could have a real gem on their hands.