Peter Crouch has revealed he told the Stoke City dressing room that Xherdan Shaqiri “would go there and rip it up” after learning he had sealed a summer move to Liverpool.
The Merseyside giants were questioned when they triggered the attacking midfielder’s £13million release clause following Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League.
But former England international told the Daily Mail he has no doubts about the ability of Shaqiri and believes he has a special talent that could take Liverpool to the next level.
“To see him thriving for Liverpool, then, comes as no surprise to me,” Crouch said. “When he got his move to Anfield in the summer, I said to a few of the lads in our dressing room that he would go there and rip it up and that is what he has been doing over the last few weeks.
“People say it is impossible to break up Liverpool’s three-man attack of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane when they are all fit but if anyone is going to do it, Shaqiri can. In terms of ability, he is up there with the best I’ve played with. Trust me, he can be whatever he wants to be.
“You need belief in yourself to thrive at Anfield and that is something he has got in abundance. Nobody has ever doubted his talent and now it seems he is maturing. Perhaps he appreciates what an opportunity he has been given.
“Liverpool look the real deal this season. Shaqiri might just be the man who provides the final ingredient to the team. He is genuinely special — it’s up to him to prove it.”
Shaqiri has had his share of voluble critics. Gary Neville and his former Stoke teammate Charlie Adam are notably not life members of his fan club. But there is a growing sense that the Switzerland international can be more than a useful squad man at Liverpool over the next few years. Unsurprisingly, he was initially used sparingly as he watched the holy trinity of Salah, Firmino and Mane from the sidelines. Jurgen Klopp was initially brutal, handing him his first league start against Southampton and then hauling him off at half-time despite an impressive display. The firm message has been, ‘you have to work your socks off to get in this team’. The penny appears to have dropped, judging by Shaqiri’s outstanding performance against Red Star in midweek. He deserved two assists for the work he did in the build-up to Salah’s opener, first sprinting back 30 yard to win the ball and then laying it off perfectly to Andrew Robertson. As Crouch states, Shaqiri can be formidable if he buys into the Anfield work ethic.