Liverpool could be set to replace one of their existing wingers with a younger transfer target in a chain of events which may potentially result in minimal net spend for the Anfield outfit.
The Liverpool Echo claimed that Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to leave the Reds this summer, with the Swiss winger valued at £25m by director of football Michael Edwards. If the Premier League leaders can recoup that amount for the 28-year-old, the money could go towards the potential purchase of Norwich youngster Todd Cantwell.
Shaqiri seemingly approaching the end at Liverpool
The Liverpool Echo suggested that Shaqiri’s time at Anfield could soon be coming to an end and, considering the peripheral role he has had this season, it would be no great surprise if he is moved on in the summer.
The Switzerland international has made only 10 appearances all season, with a mere two Premier League starts. One of those yielded a goal against Everton, the only time he has found the net in 2019/20, albeit with just 256 minutes of game-time (as per TransferMarkt). His cause has not been helped by recurring calf injuries, originating from last summer’s UEFA Nations League and plaguing him again in September and January.
Some Liverpool fans feared for his future at the club after Klopp told reporters prior to the recent win over Bournemouth that he would not be involved, elaborating no further as to why that was the case.
Would Cantwell be a better option for Liverpool than Shaqiri?
Unlike Shaqiri, Cantwell has played primarily on the left wing this season at Norwich, although the 22-year-old can also be deployed on the right flank. He has struck six goals and provided two assists in 29 Premier League matches for the Canaries, playing for 2,282 minutes in total in 2019/20 (as per TransferMarkt). That works out an average of one goal every 380.33 minutes, which is actually an inferior rate to Shaqiri’s this term.
Given that the Swiss winger has played so rarely at Liverpool this term, perhaps a fairer comparison can be drawn from 2017/18, his final season at Stoke and one in which they were relegated, a fate that seems likely to befall Norwich this year. Shaqiri scored eight league goals in 3,049 minutes that season (one per 381.12 minutes) and provided seven assists (one every 435.57 minutes).
Cantwell has averaged more passes per game this season than Shaqiri did in 2017/18 (31.3 to 29.3), as well as having a better accuracy rate (81.4% to 79.5%). However, the ex-Stoke winger executed far more key passes per game than the Norwich man has managed this term (2.1 to 1.1), as well as having more shots per game (1.9 to 1.3).
When the numbers are crunched, the 22-year-old Canaries winger doesn’t seem significantly better or worse than Shaqiri. The wisdom of potentially spending £30m or more on Cantwell may well be determined by whether Liverpool can recoup all or most of Edwards’ £25m valuation for Shaqiri – if that does come to pass, then the Norwich man could be a sensible purchase as the Reds would get a younger winger of broadly the same standard for a meagre net spend of approximately £5m.
Liverpool fans, would you favour a potential move for Cantwell if Shaqiri is sold in the summer? Join in the discussion by commenting below!