Bayern Munich’s Swiss Star: Xherdan Shaqiri’s future in Bavaria?

Posted on March 26, 2014

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Bayern Munich’s domination of the Bundesliga has continued in the most spectacular fashion this season as they sealed the title with a 1-3 victory over Hertha Berlin with 7 league games still to play.  A 25 point chasm sits between them and Borussia Dortmund in second place in a remarkable season for Bayern whose 52 game unbeaten run is a new Bundesliga record.

Last season’s Champions League winners have gone from strength to strength, sweeping past every opponent put in their way as they replaced Barcelona as the top team in Europe.  The passing of the mantle was completed as the Bavarian’s demolished the Catalans with a 7-0 aggregate victory in the semi-finals of the Champions League in April and May of 2013.

As Jupp Heynckes retired, Pep Guardiola took his place and has continued where the German left off, taking a selection of the most talented footballers from across the globe and adding more precocious talent to it, including Mario Götze and Thiago Alcântara, plus Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski who will join in the summer from Dortmund as Bayern continue to Hoover up the talent of their rivals.

A squad littered with world class players like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philip Lahm has certainly had all the pundits and analysts purring over their performances.  And with a plethora of players in the prime of their careers, Bayern’s immediate future looks set to continue in the same vein.  But where does this leave the players who are currently on the fringes of the first team?

The Swiss Messi

Xherdan Shaqiri is one of those players who Bayern may lose in the summer if he does not have the assurances of more first team football.  Shaqiri is still a relatively young player at 22 years of age but his talent means that he is a player who wants to be playing regular, first team football to continue his development, something which has not been forthcoming at Bayern.

An attacking midfielder by trade, the Swiss international has the pace and trickery to trouble any defender he comes up against.  He also has two equally strong and creative feet meaning he is comfortable operating on either flank or through the centre of the field.  He is capable of those moments of creative genius that unlock a defence and his technique when striking a football is second to none, making him a danger from set pieces.

Arguably, Shaqiri would have little problem walking into the starting eleven of any team.  However, the problem he has faced during his time at Bayern is the simple fact that Guardiola’s squad is brimming with world class, attacking players.  He has found himself as a squad player, mainly an understudy to both wing-wizard’s Robben and Ribery.  With other players like Götze and Thomas Müller occupying the attacking midfield roles, Shaqiri has found a consistent run of games hard to come by.

Out of 15 league appearances this season, Shaqiri has only completed 90 minutes on one occasion (at the time of writing).  It’s disappointing for a player of his talent to be restricted to such little time on the field and this is one reason why he could move on in the summer if the right club comes in for him.  Despite this lack of minutes, he has still managed to score 5 goals this season with one assist to his name also.

Although, both Robben and Ribery are miles ahead in terms of the plaudits they’ve received on the world stage, Shaqiri is living up to his potential and will no doubt rival his superiors, becoming a world star in his own right.

However, Shaqiri may find his opportunities limited at Bayern for some time to come.  Robben recently signed a contract extension at Bayern until 2017, Ribery signed a similar new deal in July of the previous year and if the pair keep up their current form, it’s difficult to see how Shaqiri could break their dominance.  Maintaining a squad role will not be enough for such a talented player and a move away from the club could prove inevitable.

Shaqiri in action against Borussia Monchengladbach

Shaqiri in action against Borussia Monchengladbach

Shaqiri’s brother and agent, Erdin brought credence to the rumours that the player would seek a move away from Bayern in the summer to ensure more playing time.  ESPN ran quotes from Erdin which were originally reported in Swiss newspaper, Blick:

“Xherdan is 22. You need to win regular minutes at this age and that, right now, is not the case.

“We are now waiting until the summer. When clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Inter Milan or other top clubs want to talk, then we will certainly listen to them.”

Manchester United’s troubles this season have meant that they’ve been linked with just about every player on the market and Inter Milan are not the force they were a few years ago.  Liverpool are a team on the rise and could be a suitable destination for Shaqiri.  However, his brother went on to suggest that Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals, Dortmund would be the most suitable destination.

“Liverpool might be okay for him, but the Premier League is not Shaq’s league.  The best choice for him would be Dortmund. Jürgen Klopp’s football suits him.”

The transfer of Shaqiri from Bayern to Dortmund would go a little way to making up for the loss of Lewandowski and Götze.

However, at the moment, Shaqiri is under the tutelage of one of the greatest managers in the world and Guardiola has shown at least some faith in the young, Swiss midfielder.  His importance from the bench has proved decisive in several games this season with eye-catching, explosive performances in a relatively small amount of game time.

Guardiola is an extremely smart manager and he has managed his squad perfectly so far this season and it seems he is continuing to groom Shaqiri to eventually succeed Robben or Ribery.  Shaqiri himself believed his brother was actually miss-quoted, implying he may want to bide his time at Bayern.  ESPN quoted Shaqiri as saying:

“I never said I want to leave. I’m very happy in Munich and I’m not thinking about leaving. My brother’s opinion was written a bit differently to what he actually said.”

Summer in Brazil

If Shaqiri is to move on in the summer then the World Cup in Brazil could prove to be the perfect stage for him to shine.  He is the star man for Switzerland, along with Granit Xhaka of Borussia Monchengladbach and both players are seen as the leading lights for their national team.

Switzerland could prove to be the surprise package at the summer’s World Cup as they take on France, Honduras and Ecuador in Group E.  If Shaqiri put’s in the kind of performances he is capable of, then his talents will no doubt attract the attention of the top clubs in Europe and thus pave the way for a summer move.

Shaqiri is one of the most exciting young players in the world at the moment; he has the ability to perform the cute to the downright audacious as well as all the explosive skill moves that dazzle defences.  Whether creating chances for his team mates or engineering space for himself to unleash a shot, Shaqiri is up there with the most talented footballers and well on his way to becoming a world star.

By Jamie Allen

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Posted in: Football