Xherdan Shaqiri arrived in England with a big reputation after playing for both Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
The Swiss international was regarded as one of the brightest talents to emerge from his homeland in several years, but his lack of consistency and selfish style prevented him from being a success at two of the biggest clubs on the continent.
Despite that, it was still seen as a huge surprise that he joined mid-table Premier League side Stoke City.
At the time, the attacker would have seen the club as a stepping stone to bigger things with a move to a top-six Premier League team in his future.
His first two seasons were underwhelming, as he managed to contribute only seven goals and eight assists in 48 matches.
He was involved in a goal every 249.9 minutes, which isn’t good enough for a player with his quality.
The environment at Stoke didn’t help him play to his potential, as there was little ambition at the club with the only focus being to stay in the division.
Although there were some nice moments from Shaqiri, he didn’t impact matches on a consistent basis and that stopped a bigger club from making a move for him.
Saturday was the day of Stoke City’s relegation from the Premier League and that has created doubt regarding the future for Shaqiri, but he is one of the few players in the squad to emerge from this season with credit.
In the match against Crystal Palace, the 26-year-old gave his side some hope with an excellent strike from a free-kick, but the Potters once again showed that they couldn’t hold on to a lead and that is one of the major reasons for their current position.
That goal took Shaqiri up to eight goals and six assists for the season.
He has nearly matched his contribution from the last two seasons combined and that shows the improved consistency that he has found, despite Stoke’s struggles. This has been helped by his playing time, as he has started all but two of the team’s matches.
As the season progressed to a climax, there was a lot of pressure on Shaqiri to produce the magic to save Stoke City.
The plan seemed to be ‘defend and give the ball to the winger’ to provide a match-winning moment.
It may not have worked, but it gave a platform to the Swiss international to show his ability and he has managed to do that with some impressive showings.
The relegation will hurt Shaqiri today, but his performances over the course of the season mean that he is unlikely to have to play Championship football.
He is far too good for that and he has the opportunity to leave this summer.
The World Cup will be his first priority, but he could use the tournament as a shop window and attract a club of the highest calibre possible.
A top-six club may be beyond him, despite his improvement. However, there will be a lot of Premier League interest and it would be a good decision to remain in England.
The style of football suits him and there is no telling how effective he could be in the right system.
Stoke never provided that, but there will clubs that will. It may not feel like it today, but this season has represented progression for Shaqiri.