Philippe Coutinho has been recognized as the witch in the Premier League. His appearance in the Liverpool midfield is considered one of the best in the world today. With the strategy of heavy metal football applied by Jurgen Klopp, Coutinho is increasingly dangerous for the opponent’s defense. Moreover, like the other best players in the world, Coutinho moved to Barcelona. He left Liverpool in January 2018 to pursue his dreams in the world’s biggest club.
Since the transfer occurred in the middle of the season, Liverpool was only able to find a replacement six months later. Nabil Fekir, the captain of Lyon and a mainstay of France, has been offered a contract by the Reds. Unfortunately, Lyon accused Liverpool of doing an illegal approach. Thus, Fekir’s transfer forced to be canceled.
Liverpool then turned to the former wonder-kid who had been said to face failure, Xherdan Shaqiri. This Swiss winger was brought in from Stoke City, which was relegated and relatively uninterrupted with a transfer fee of only 13.5 million pounds. Fans have never expected much of a star whose career swooped from Bayern Munich to Inter Milan, then to Stoke. Yet, it turned out that Shaqiri was able to appear beyond expectations.
Shaqiri’s career was indeed up and down. This 26-year-old man had tasted 70 caps with Switzerland. He also won two Bundesliga titles and one Champions League trophy while defending Bayern. Unable to compete with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, he moved to Inter Milan. Even in Italy, he was unable to adjust and often struggled more on his injuries. He jumped to England, to the club in the middle of nowhere called Stoke. Being the best player there, he had to move again to save his career when the club was relegated.
Liverpool became his choice. On the red side of Merseyside, Shaqiri was not plotted to play every week. But the situation did not prevent him from appearing good. Shaqiri was able to appear as a wing attacker but in a number of matches, he was placed in a rather central position. He became a convincing additional player to the squad which lacked upholstery ammunition on the front lines.
His spectacular overhead goals against Manchester United in preseason matches could actually be considered as the proof of Shaqiri’s quality. In the Premier League match against Cardiff, he calmly tricked the opposing defender before putting the ball into the net against Neil Etheridge. His action tricking Sean Morrison, perhaps, immediately reminded the Kop’s public on Philippe Coutinho. The goal was a goal that was really “Coutinho”. The goal was created through a magical moment that was able to make people giving their standing-applause.
Formerly, when Coutinho was still at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp often used it to spearhead the deadlock from midfield. He built attacks from the left side to create opportunities. Klopp even developed Coutinho’s offensive side by putting it closer to the penalty box, which affected Coutinho’s tighter number of goals.
With Shaqiri, Klopp made a quite different approach. He has a stocky body that makes him more physically resilient. So, besides having the speed that makes him deserve to be lined up as Mohamed Salah’s coating, he can also play as a complement to the midfield. Jurgen Klopp had admitted that he was a little dizzy choosing a combination of midfield because Shaiqiri suddenly looked better than expected.
Both in 4-3-3 and 4-2-31 formations, Shaqiri seems to be a complement to Liverpool’s fantastic four with Bobby Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mo Salah.