Xherdan Shaqiri: From Relegation to Champions League Winner in 4 Short Premier League Years

11 August 2019 09:28

​On 11 August 2015, Stoke City shocked the footballing world by signing former Bayern Munich star and Champions League winner Xherdan Shaqiri.

The Potters were in a state of transition, and the Swiss' signing signalled the end of the long ball era, and the beginning of the Potters' push towards the upper echelons of the Premier League. 

Mark Hughes knew that if he could get the best out of the diminutive magician, he could help to solidify Stoke as a permanent Premier League fixture.

Marko Arnautovic,Xherdan Shaqiri,Bojan Krkic

Hughes did get the best out of Shaqiri, but not for long. 

In December 2015, ​Stoke comfortably dispatched both Manchester City and Manchester United at the then Britannia Stadium, and were 4-3 victors in a dramatic game against ​Everton at Goodison Park. It's considered one of the greatest periods in Stoke's history, and Shaqiri was at the heart of it. 

Unfortunately for the Potters, they failed to capitalise on their promising displays, and in 2018 they were relegated from the Premier League. As a result, Shaqiri was castigated for his apparent lack of effort or interest in his side's decline.

Xherdan Shaqiri

Not long after, teammate Charlie Adam accused Shaqiri of 'getting away with murder' during his time at Stoke, and was particularly scathing during an interview with ​talkSport

“When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed."

Damning words from the Scotsman. 

Shaqiri's attitude was questioned during Stoke's darkest hours, and the winger made matters worse when he gave an interview during the relegation battle, declaring that even Ronaldinho couldn't keep that group of players in the top flight. 

Whilst his statement was ill-judged, it was also probably accurate. 

The former ​Inter man produced his best season statistically in 2017/18, whilst others floundered around him, and even his own individual moments of brilliance weren't enough to save the sinking ship. 

Whilst manager Paul Lambert was polishing the brass on the Titanic, Shaqiri was angling an escape on a Liverpool lifeboat, and deservedly so.

The maverick's £12m arrival was met with skepticism from the Anfield faithful, as they were expecting the marquee signing of Frenchman Nabil Fekir, rather than the relegated Shaqiri. 

But Klopp saw enough in the 27-year-old's displays to bring him to Liverpool, and Shaqiri took that opportunity wholeheartedly. If his work-rate and team mentality were in question, those fears were quickly quashed. 

The Swiss forward swallowed his pride and appeared to relish being part of a real strong squad, rather than the heart and soul of it. Without the weight of an entire city on his shoulders, he has been able to produce some iconic moments during his 12 months on Merseyside.

His willingness to bide his time paid dividends when he was introduced as a substitute in the 70th minute against bitter rivals Man Utd. Shaqiri was on the pitch for three minutes before he rifled his side ahead, and doubled his tally in quick succession. His winning contribution demonstrated his hunger and belief in Klopp's ideals.

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“When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed." Charlie Adam after Stoke's relegation from the Premier League, May 2018.


The Liverpool number 23 was also key in their Champions League success, laying on key assists and performing superbly against ​Barcelona in the dramatic 4-0 victory in the semi-final second leg. 

Whilst Liverpool were pipped to league title glory by Manchester City, Shaqiri was able to add another Champions League to his list of accolades - although once again, he didn't take part in the final.

It was a successful first season at Anfield for the Swiss superstar, but cracks are already beginning to show as his patience continues to wear thin over his limited game-time. He will have been bitterly disappointed to have not played any part in the Champions League final, especially after playing such a crucial role in helping his team in the previous round. 

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Whilst he was frustrated at the over-reliance thrust upon him at Stoke, his enthusiasm towards the collective mentality at Liverpool is reportedly waning. It's possible that Shaqiri needs to find a middle ground between Stoke and Liverpool, where he can be a regular starter in a top team, but these ambitions may lead him away from English football. 

Not many will suffer the destructive lows of relegation and the inexplicable highs of European success within 12 months, but Shaqiri is testament to the adage that form is temporary, class is permanent. 

Source: 90min