After finishing 9th in the Premier League for the 2nd consecutive season, Stoke City embarked on a mini spending spree in the 2015 summer transfer window which saw Xherdan Shaqiri arrived in Staffordshire for a fee of £12 million.
The old-fashioned Stoke City side which relied heavily on kick and rush football and a darting long-throw supplied by the arms of Rory Delap was beginning to become a concept of the past under the progressive stewardship of Mark Hughes, and the signings he made in 2015 suggested that the board were backing the desirable transition to possession-based football.
Having signed Bojan Krkic from Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Stoke seemed intent on providing Hughes with the calibre of player which is needed to attempt a possession-based style of play, but the Potters went one better the following summer when they announced the signing of Shaqiri.
With experience playing for two of Europe’s biggest footballing heavyweights in Bayern Munich and Inter Milan his arrival was considered a major coup, and Hughes was naturally excited about the prospect of welcoming him to the club as he told the club’s website (via Daily Telegraph): “He’s a dynamic and explosive player who will bring something different to the group and at the age of 23 he still has a great deal of potential.”
Shaqiri’s performances certainly delivered on Hughes’ apt description as his forward-thinking dynamism and explosive power provided Stoke with a genuine danger man in the final-third whom possessed the ability to produce something out of nothing.
In his three-year stint for the club Shaqiri managed to score 15 goals and provide 15 assists from 92 appearances in all-competitions, which actually represents something of an underachievement in relation to his ability.
But the statistics cannot illuminate the energy and flair which Shaqiri injected into the club, whilst it must be considered that the calibre of the players around him, or lack thereof, restricted him from reaching the full extent of his potential.
In his third and final season Stoke effectively became the Xherdan Shaqiri team but he was unable to steer the club clear of the relegation zone despite his best efforts.
Although Stoke made a handful of shrewd signings during their ten-year stint in the Premier League, there’s no doubt that Shaqiri stands out as their best value for money deal, even if he remains their third most expensive purchase of all time (as per Transfermarkt).
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