With the news that Xherdan Shaqiri has completed a £9.5 million transfer to Lyon, Liverpool supporters are left to wonder what might have been for the Swiss midfielder at Anfield. After arriving from Stoke City in 2018, Shaqiri enjoyed a good first season, but after falling out of favour with Jürgen Klopp and enduring various injury setbacks, the 29-year-old gradually became surplus to requirements at the club.
But in the space of 63 games for the club, there were a few magical moments that will live in the memory of Liverpool’s supporters. Let’s have a look at three of the best.
Bagging a brace
Of all the things you can achieve at Anfield, scoring a brace against Manchester United to win the game is right up there with the best ways to endear yourselves to supporters. Locked in a titanic title tussle with Manchester City in the 2018-19 season, Liverpool needed three points against José Mourinho’s United to reclaim top spot in the Premier League table.
With the game level at 1-1, substitute Shaqiri stepped forward. Neither of his goals were classics — both went into the net via deflections — but that did not matter to the Liverpool players or supporters, who celebrated wildly. Liverpool went on to have a sensational season, and while it wasn’t quite enough to land the title, Shaqiri was played an important role in the club reaching a magnificent total of 97 points.
Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semi-final, which saw them upset the online betting odds and overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit and advance to the final in Madrid, is one of the greatest nights in the club’s recent history. With Shaqiri handed a start due to absences of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, he made a vital contribution in the second half, sending in a pinpoint cross to Georginio Wijnaldum, who headed home his second and Liverpool’s third to draw level on aggregate.
The cross provided the cool clarity that Liverpool needed in that moment, amidst a frenzied atmosphere at Anfield. Liverpool went on to win the Champions League, and although this one assist is only a small part of the Reds’ trophy-winning tale, it was a hugely important moment.
It is perhaps a telling sign of how far Shaqiri had fallen in Klopp’s estimation that he was included in the starting line-up for an early-season League Cup tie at Lincoln in the 2020-21 season. But they say that form is temporary and class is permanent, and Shaqiri provided a touch of magic in the 7-2 rout, bending a delicious free-kick into the top corner to open the scoring on the night. The celebrations were muted from the Swiss international, but regardless of the opposition and relative insignificance of the occasion, it was still a sensational strike.
Those moments of class are what Liverpool supporters will miss most about Shaqiri. He is a player who always has something special in him, waiting to burst forth at any given moment. Unfortunately, due to injuries and the form of other players in Liverpool’s squad, Shaqiri rarely got a chance to show the Anfield faithful what he’s really made of. Here’s hoping he finds success with Lyon in the next chapter of his career.