Brilliant in Switzerland. Good in Germany. Alright in Italy. Lost in England. No, it’s not ITV’s newest drama series; it’s the career of Xherdan Shaqiri. The £12m man was tipped as one of the signings of the season, but after failing to hit the net in 10 games for the club and providing just the one assist, he looks set to be the Premier League’s next imported failure.
Once seen as the golden boy of not only Swiss football, but European football too, the 24-year-old’s career has never really got going. A £9m move to Bayern Munich promised much for the then 21-year-old, but delivered very little. His clear pace and power were seen as the perfect attributes to achieve at one of Europe’s top teams at the time, but his lack of a quality final product left him behind Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery in the queue for first team spots. Questions were often raised about the winger’s attitude, and they may be right. To have the natural talent that he clearly possesses and not have succeeded at the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, he only has himself to blame.
Stoke is probably Shaqiri’s last chance at success. If he continues to put in the lacklustre performances he has done at the Britannia, Shaqiri will probably see out his career in one of Europe’s smaller leagues: most likely Turkey or Portugal. That is the fate that has been faced by so many before him. Only he can stop himself becoming the next Nani or Adel Taarabt.
Shaqiri is not the first foreigner to struggle after arriving in England, nor will he be the last. Gone are the days of the so-called ‘lesser’ teams buying a top player and climbing the table. With the ridiculous new TV deal meaning clubs are raking in the cash, they are able to attract top players to make the best league in the world (sorry Florentino Perez), even better. We have seen this with Shaqiri signing for Stoke, Dimitri Payet signing for West Ham, and Yohan Cabaye moving to Crystal Palace. ‘Lesser’ teams no longer have to sell their best players to make money. West Brom weren’t going to sell Saido Berahino to Tottenham for anything less than £25m; £20m means basically nothing to West Brom now.
For Shaqiri, he will certainly be given a good chance at Stoke, with Mark Hughes likely to give him a little bit longer than other managers in the league.