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Xherdan Shaqiri to win the Premiership with Stoke?

Xherdan Shaqiri to win the Premiership with Stoke?

Stoke City…Premiership champions, could that really happen??  Well, it is if you listen to Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri!

‘Shaq’ (as he’s known) was quoted in The Sun as saying "I'm trying to get the club to the top as leader. “But I also want to play for titles again and be in the Champions League. “We were up and down as a team this season. “Now we want to attack again in the summer. “The board must strengthen - other clubs will also be doing it.

“Can Stoke do a Leicester? Yes, I think this is possible."

As a Stoke City fan, I want to know what Xherdan Shaqiri drinks, because that’s got to be some fantastic juice that’s giving him such optimism!!  Then again, we didn’t ever expect to see Leicester City as Premiership champions, did we?!?

I’m sure there are many Stoke City fans that have dreamed about winning titles, making the Champions League etc, but unfortunately, like me they’ve woken up. Stoke doing a Leicester and winning the Premiership would be extraordinary but realistically not going to happen. Still, it’s nice to see one of our better players showing such optimism! But perhaps you can excuse his optimism, because as a player he’s won titles and trophies wherever he’s been, and perhaps if you had, you’d expect to do the same at Stoke City?

Where did his talents arise from? Well the Swiss youth made his name at FC Basel in 2009 winning the league title and the Swiss Cup in his first season. He won the league title again in 2010/11 and at the end of the 2011–12 season, for the second time in his Basel stint, he won the Double.  His reputation was further enhanced that season as in December 2011, Shaqiri provided two assists in a Champions league match against Manchester United, with Basel winning 2–1.  Clubs were circling and it was announced in February 2012 that a €11.6 million fee with Bayern Munich was agreed and he would join them for the 2012/13 season.

His 1st season in Germany saw Shaqiri make 39 appearances and it was a very successful season for him and Bayern as the club won the treble! Saying that, he was on the subs bench as they won the Champions League at Wembley defeating Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2–1 thanks to an 89th-minute winner from ex-Chelsea star Arjen Robben. Although he didn’t get on the pitch, it was an unbelievable day as the players involved were the first to win the treble in the club’s history.

The future looked bright for the Swiss international but in 2013/14, Shaqiri found himself more and more as a backup. Then Manager Pep Guardiola's shift towards a 3-4-3 formation left him behind the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Thiago and Mario Gotze and this continued in the 2014/15 season when he was used mainly as a substitution. But, despite this concern, during his two-and-a-half years in the Bundesliga, the 23-year-old won two league titles, two German Cups and the Champions League, not bad going eh!

But, as time progressed frustration became apparent and in January 2015, Shaqiri joined Inter Milan 2015 for €15 million. Mind you, he went onto make just 8 league starts in his time at Inter Milan as there was an apparent fall-out with then Manager Roberto Mancini. This led to his exit and just 6 months later, he signed for Stoke City for a reported £12 million.

So, as you can see, Shaqiri has won lots of titles, and despite not winning anything further in his two years with the Potters, would we have such optimism if you had won all the titles he has? That’s open to debate, but he’s still only 25 and despite a slightly frustrating season, you do feel he has another gear to go up, don’t you? He has the talent, and proved this again 4 days ago with his strike for Switzerland against Belarus in a friendly. This time it was a left foot rocket, struck from nearly 30 yards, cutting in from the right wing to find the top left corner. It was a beauty and with such talents, you can see why he’s already made 61 national appearances, scoring 19 goals.

What next for Xherdan Shaqiri? Well he has 3 years left on his Stoke contract and judging from such positive comments, he’s obviously very happy! What we need to see from him is to play more games, after all, he was unavailable for nearly 3 months in the 2nd-half of the season with frustrating calf problems cited for his absence. He had only been expected to be out for one week at the end of January but that dragged on and on.

He is one of Stoke City’s biggest talents and there is no reason why bigger clubs won’t come circling again if he can improve his consistency and keep himself fit. It’s great to have witnessed some of the great strikes that he has done, nothing makes the supporters smile more, but if he can add some tap-ins to this game, his stats can match up with the best, and maybe he’ll win some more medals to add to his trophy cabinet?

Daniel Scattergood