Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is said to be ready to boost his firepower options with the acquisition of Xherdan Shaqiri from relegated Stoke City.
Klopp is confident that a deal can be done for the attacker, making the Swiss star the Reds’ third summer signing — and with a clutch of other new arrivals said to be in the frame.
Anfield chief Klopp is a long-time admirer of Shaqiri, who is aged 26. And once Stoke were consigned to the Championship from the top flight it became apparent that the Reds would pursue an interest. What has helped Klopp in his pursuit of Shaqiri is the player’s willingness to remain in the Premier League; he even made a statement prior to the confirmation of the Potters’ demotion that he wanted to play at the highest level in England.
But first, of course, Shaqiri, a former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan player, had the slight matter of the FIFA World Cup in Russia with the Switzerland squad. Now his tournament is over and the objective is to find a club with Liverpool more than matching the criteria he laid down before the Potters’ fate was sealed at the end of season.
Shaqiri is said to have a release clause in his Stoke contract, which is believed to be in the region of around £13million. Newspaper reports suggest that Liverpool have started to make negotiations with the desire of completing the deal before they set off on a pre-season tour of the United States on July 22.
Klopp has already splashed the cash this summer. He has sanctioned a boost to club’s midfield with Naby Keita for £52million from Red Bull Leipzig and Fabinho for £44million from Monaco. They have so far been thwarted in their bid to land the £53million-rated Nabil Fekir from Lyon with concerns raising from a club medical seemingly putting paid to any deal. Of course, a deal for the Lyon skipper could yet be revived after France’s World Cup campaign. After last night’s 1-0 win over Belgium in the tournament’s semi-final this will have to wait just a little bit longer yet.
Former Reds ace John Barnes says he believes that Shaqiri would provide a touch of quality to the ranks of the Anfield outfit. He added:
“He would certainly improve the squad even if not the first 11. Liverpool showed last season that they have a starting 11 capable of challenging anybody but they didn’t necessarily have the strength in depth to compete in every competition. Klopp has already improved the squad by bringing in Fabinho and Keita, and Shaqiri would be another good addition.”
Liverpool picked up a win in their first pre-season friendly when they travelled to Tranmere Rovers, just across the river Mersey, and enjoyed a 3-2 score line at Prenton Park on Tuesday night.
The visitors were quick to go in to a three-goal lead before the break with Rafa Camacho, Sheyi Ojo and Adam Lallana – wearing the skipper’s armband — all finding the net.
Tranmere came out after the half-time period with a renewed vigour and before too long they started to push Klopp’s men all the way. And their persistence paid off as they reduced the arrears by netting twice in the last 18 minutes through Jonny Smith and Amadou Soukouna, but Liverpool dug in and managed to hold onto their lead.
They play Bury in their next friendly as they warm up for their first Premier League game against West Ham United on August 12.