Stoke City may have landed the steal of the 2015 transfer window.
On the morning of August 11 the Potters landed Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri. The 23-year-old has played at FC Basel, Bayern Munich and recently Inter Milan, before making his switch to the Premier League.
The young Swiss, nicknamed the 'Alpine-Messi', is a fairly small winger but has a stocky physical stature. He is extremely quick and possesses quite the strike, as we saw in the 2014 World Cup when he bagged a hat-trick against Honduras.
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While at Bayern Shaqiri was mainly used as sub for their elite wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. He made a total of 26 appearances in the Bavarian’s treble-winning year (2012-2013), scoring a total of eight goals in all competitions.
The following year he made seventeen appearances, scoring seven goals. The writing began to appear on the wall that Shaqiri’s days at Bayern were dwindling when Pep Guardiola preferred the then-new man from Borussia Dortmund, Mario Gotze instead.
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Shaqiri transferred to Inter Milan half way through the 2014/2015 season, but he failed to make a lasting impact at the club, only scoring three goals in all competitions. The wide-man never really clicked with the style of play manager Roberto Mancini prefers, nor was he able to find rhythm with his Inter teammates.
Enter Stoke, who made Shaqiri their club record signing, paying around £12million.
In the past, Shaqiri has faced some criticism from former manager Pep Guardiola, who said that the Swiss international was not “clever enough,” to fit in his system at Bayern.
Premier League hope
With his permanent role as a backup at Bayern, and failure to really emerge in the Serie A, Shaqiri’s football career might be salvaged thanks to his arrival in the Premier League. Finally he'll will be able to gain full first-team experience, assuming he starts in the Mark Hughes’ squad.
Football IQ is an important factor in the Premier League. With centre-backs being physically larger and full-backs being quicker than most leagues in the world, Shaqiri will be challenged like never before.
Neither will he have the same supporting cast that surrounded him at Bayern. However, he will benefit from gaining the first-team experience that he needs in order to fully reach his potential.
Stoke stepping stone?
Even though Shaqiri signed a five-year deal with Stoke, it is possible that Britannia Stadium will only be a stepping-stone.
At just 23, the young Swiss has much of his career still ahead of him. If he is to finally establish himself as an elite winger, which football pundits originally thought was possible, he now has his chance to do so in the biggest league in the world.
Football fans, do you think the move to Stoke was a wise one from Shaqiri? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.