A frustrated Xherdan Shaqiri has stayed the course at Bayern Munich so far.
Thing is, he has every reason to leave.
The Swiss midfielder showcased his talents at the 2014 World Cup, proving an electric jolt of energy to any squad and also bagged a mind-boggling goal to go with it. He’s continued that form for his country in Euro 2016 qualification, with three goals in his last two matches, against Lithuania and San Marino.
This winter, injuries across the top five leagues could provide an opening to immediate playing time at a top club, an opportunity which the 23-year-old should not pass up.
“Of course I want to be playing more,” he told Swiss paper Blick a few days ago. “I wanted a move in the summer, of course, but the club made their decision and I’ve just got to live with it.”
“I just felt after the World Cup that it would be better for me to try something new. I thought about moving and I had lots of inquiries, but Bayern decided I had to stay, and you can’t do much about that as a player.”
Despite his obvious talents on the ball, at Bayern Munich it’s not hard to tell why he doesn’t start. With just 312 minutes this season across eight Bundesliga appearances, Shaqiri is stuck behind Xabi Alonso and Mario Gotze in the center of the pitch, and even with their injury crisis at the back, he doesn’t appear to be a factor for the starting lineup, especially not with Bastian Schweinsteiger on the verge of his return.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have just seen Luka Modric go down for months with an injury, and while Sami Khedira can get forward and create in his place, Khedira is much more of a holding midfielder, and therefore not the same player. Shaqiri would fit perfectly as a direct replacement for Modric, as a player with much more fluidity forward.
A team like Manchester United is in dire need of a player like Shaqiri. With Wayne Rooney bearing the brunt of the creative force, pairing him with Shaqiri behind Robin van Persie would allow either player freedom forward without worry. Ander Herrera was a great fit in that squad and flourished early in his Red Devil tenure, but the Spaniard got hurt and hasn’t seen much time since. Shaqiri would fill that role nicely, especially with Daley Blind now down for a few months.
There are reports that Manchester United is after Shaqiri, despite executive Ed Woodward today telling fans not to expect a “short-term” purchase in January. Thing is, Shaqiri’s not a stop-gap measure. He would be a player for the future.
Even Liverpool could use a player like Shaqiri. Steven Gerrard has shown signs of slowing this season and even the end of last, and at 23 years old Shaqiri could be a perfect successor to that throne. The club does have Jordan Henderson available for that role, but a combination of the two could be deadly. The Reds have been reportedly interested as well.
The list of good fits goes on, and any club worth its salt could benefit from a player like Shaqiri. Any club, except the stacked midfield at Allianz Arena.
Shaqiri said he plans to sit down with the club to discuss his future before the winter transfer window opens, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t express a strong desire to leave.
“I’ve got to speak with Bayern before anybody,” Shaqiri said, “and we will sit down again this winter. I just get the impression I would never be a regular starter, not even if I score in every game.”
For every neutral fan’s benefit, we hope Shaqiri can find a home where he fits and belongs, because more Shaqiri is a good thing for all involved.