Newcastle United have reportedly set their sights on Liverpool outcast Xherdan Shaqiri, whom they want to sign after their potential takeover by the Saudi Arabia PIF is complete.
For the better part of last month, Newcastle have been linked with plenty of names as soon as it was announced that the Saudi consortium, led by the chairman Mohammad bin Salman, is closing in on a deal worth £300 million to take control over the Magpies.
Newcastle’s current owner, Mike Ashley has been eager to cut ties with the club, and if the deal does see daylight, it could propel the Magpies to glorious heights.
They haven’t won a major trophy since 1969, and to cut short the silverware draught, those behind the club are working round the clock to ensure they have a wishlist of players ready, when and if the takeover gets a green light.
While in the media, players such as Edinson Cavani and Philippe Coutinho have been linked with a switch to Tyneside, however, Shaqiri would be a more realistic target, given his profile.
A brief history of Xherdan Shaqiri
The Switzerland international began his career at FC Basel in 2009 and continued to shine for them until 2012 when Bayern Munich came calling. After three years, in order to seek a new challenge, the 28-year-old moved to Inter Milan but his stay in Italy was short-lived.
After just six months with Inter, Xherdan Shaqiri joined Stoke City in the summer of 2015. Three years later, Liverpool decided to sign the highly-rated playmaker and in his first season on Merseyside, he helped the club to a Champions League title.
However, this season, a combination of injuries and bad form have limited the Swiss player to just 10 appearances across all competitions, the last of which came against Tottenham in January.
Visibly frustrated at the lack of opportunities, Xherdan Shaqiri was on the radar of Roma and Sevilla, both clubs wanted him on loan for the rest of the season in January, but Liverpool were reluctant to let him go as they were alive and kicking in all three competitions back then.
Enter, Newcastle United!
The Magpies are willing to make Xherdan Shaqiri their first signing, as soon as their rumoured takeover gets completed. Not only would it be a statement of intent from Newcastle, but they would also be getting their hands on a versatile player, blessed with a wand of a left-foot.
Liverpool, for their part, will not stand in his way this time, having already secured the services of Takumi Minamino earlier this year. That being said, ‘the magic dwarf’ already has three years remaining on his current deal at Anfield, so he won’t come cheap.
The money wouldn’t be a problem for Newcastle anymore given the riches of Saudi Arabia’s PIF.
The previous examples of Gulf countries pouring money into football and transforming clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City would certainly tempt Newcastle supporters as well.
The verdict: Shaqiri and Newcastle a perfect match
Let’s be honest, the kind of talent Xherdan Shaqiri possesses, he would certainly be a hit on Tyneside. Having served second fiddle to stars like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, the Swiss international would certainly take up the chance to become a star player himself at St. James’ Park.
While the media has been linking the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Edinson Cavani to Newcastle, Xherdan Shaqiri would be a cheaper alternative than the Brazilian, who has struggled since leaving Liverpool.
As for Cavani, despite his obvious talent, the striker has no prior experience of playing in the Premier League, and at 33, he isn’t getting any younger. Instead, Newcastle would be better off with the Swiss maestro, who at 28, is entering his peak years.
Stats courtesy: Transfermarkt.co.in