sport news Xherdan Shaqiri chose to stay at Liverpool and now looks set to play a crucial ...

Of all the players on the fringe of Liverpool's first-team this summer, Xherdan Shaqiri looked the most likely to move on - and with good reason.  

In the prime of his career, having turned 29 three weeks ago, the Swiss international was linked with a transfer away having played seven times in the Premier League last season, which included just seven minutes post-lockdown. 

Yet after opting to stay and fight for his place in Jurgen Klopp's side, the left-footed playmaker has proven himself vital in recent weeks, culminating in an exquisite assist for Diogo Jota's winner against West Ham on Saturday night. 

Xherdan Shaqiri came on to brilliantly set up Diogo Jota's winner versus West Ham on Saturday

Xherdan Shaqiri came on to brilliantly set up Diogo Jota's winner versus West Ham on Saturday

The Swiss international is gradually working his way back into Jurgen Klopp's first-team plans

The Swiss international is gradually working his way back into Jurgen Klopp's first-team plans

The Liverpool manager admitted post-match that though Shaqiri had endured a difficult two years on Merseyside, his role in the first-team squad now was crucial.    

'Shaq has played an incredibly important role after a difficult time, and is important to us,' said the Reds boss. 

'Shaq is a versatile offensive player. He has played for us as an 8, on the wing, and a 10 when he came on (against West Ham). That's all the positions he can play.

XHERDAN SHAQIRI AT LIVERPOOL 
Appearances: 45 Starts: 20 Goals: 8 Assists: 6 Trophies: 4 (Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup)

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'He is a really good player and has made a massive impact in pretty much all of the games he has played. He was part of some of the biggest games in our recent history. I'm just happy to have him back.'

And it is no exaggeration when Klopp refers to Shaqiri's often understated role in some of the biggest moments in the past two years, since he signed for £13.5m from Stoke City in the summer of 2018. 

A match-winning double from the bench against in December 2018 - their first league win over their arch-rivals in over four years - illustrated the key role Shaqiri could play in attack for the Reds, despite being unable to usurp the trusted front-trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. 

But it was two inch-perfect crosses in the space of four days in May 2019 which showed how effective Shaqiri, irrespective of a lack of minutes in the legs, could be in the long-term. 

In desperate need of a goal to keep their title challenge alive at Newcastle, Shaqiri whipped in a stunning free-kick on the head of Divock Origi to score the winner - and take what would turn out to be a forlorn Premier League pursuit down to the last day. 

But it will be Shaqiri's cross from the left at Anfield against Barcelona which will go down in history. Spotting Gini Wijnaldum all alone in the penalty area, the pace and flight of the ball was perfect for the flying Dutchman to head home, in one of the most memorable moments in Liverpool's history. 

We all know what happened next. 

Shaqiri has a history of making a huge impact from the bench, like against Man Utd in 2018

Shaqiri has a history of making a huge impact from the bench, like against Man Utd in 2018

The Swiss international also set up a goal during the Reds' 2019 comeback against Barcelona

The Swiss international also set up a goal during the Reds' 2019 comeback against Barcelona

But, for a while, that was the last we saw of the Shaqiri in a Liverpool shirt. Having played his part in the semi-final comeback, he was unsurprisingly an unused substitute in the final victory

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