There were only 10 days between Xherdan Shaqiri suffering World Cup elimination with Switzerland and him interrupting a well-earned break to sign for Liverpool.
He is clearly eager to get started, along with everyone else at Anfield. “We can have a deserved long holiday next year when there is no tournament,” he predicts. “This is the perfect time to kick on and to be very successful.”
Shaqiri is three pre-season substitute appearances into his Liverpool career but already in tune with the optimism surrounding Jürgen Klopp’s team going into Sunday afternoon’s opener against West Ham. He is in tune with his new teammates, too, on the evidence of impressive cameos against Manchester United, Napoli and Torino. Early days, but the variety and quality the 26-year-old brought to Liverpool’s attack in the friendlies demonstrated why Klopp called it a “no-brainer” to activate the £13m release clause in his Stoke contract last month.
In Shaqiri, Naby Keïta, Fabinho and Alisson, the world’s second most expensive goalkeeper, Klopp has strengthened a squad that was good enough to reach the Champions League final in May even as injuries bit. Expectation has risen accordingly, to the extent that Shaqiri is undaunted by the challenge of overhauling a Manchester City team that finished 25 points clear of Liverpool in May.
“For me, nothing is impossible,” Shaqiri says. “We can be everything we want to be. We beat Manchester City in the league and the Champions League last season so I think we can beat anyone in the world. It has to be our ambition to compete with the best and to go on the field against whoever we play trying to win the game and dominate the game. Our aim is to win as many titles as possible. That is the goal of the club now and we are looking forward to the season.”
Shaqiri’s three seasons at Stoke ended in relegation and personal criticism but he brings title-winning experience from his days at Bayern Munich and Basel, where one Mohamed Salah was trialled as the winger’s potential replacement. Salah passed the trial, by the way. The Kosovo-born player has three Swiss Super League and two Bundesliga titles to his name and believes Liverpool, despite their 28-year wait for a 19th league championship, possess the quality to match their ambition this season.
He explains: “I came here to try to win titles. I think this club needs to have this ambition to win titles, to play for titles, and to be one of the best teams in the world. It is one of the best clubs in the world and so now we try to show that on the pitch. Liverpool had a very successful and good season last year but we didn’t win a title. Now it is important to be very good again and to achieve that last thing. I think we now have the quality and a talented team who can play to win titles. It has to be our goal to try to be the best in the league.