If the events of the past week are any indication, Roma may land Xherdan Shaqiri by the time you finish reading this sentence; that's how fast Walter Sabatini was seemingly able to land Ashley Cole and pawn off Dodo on Inter for nine million (nine million! Can you believe that?) over the weekend. Shaqiri, a 22-year-old midfielder, has been connected in both the English and Italian press with a move to Roma.
So who is this young man with the interesting name and Imperial smirk and why should we want him in Roma?
Shaqiri hails from the land formerly known as Yugoslavia and has dual citizenship with Albania and Switzerland, the latter of whom he chose to represent at the international level, where you likely witnessed this a few weeks ago:
Shaqiri's hat trick against Honduras was the cherry on top of what has always been a promising career.
Shaqiri came up through the ranks at FC Basel before making an €11.6m move to global power house Bayern Munich, for whom he has made over 50 appearances in all competitions since joining the club at the start of the 2012-2013 season, scoring 11 goals and dishing out 9 assists in the process. While those numbers won't bowl you over, they're pretty impressive for such a young player in what is arguably the world's best league.
Moving to a club like Bayern is a Catch-22 for a player as young as Shaqiri. Yes, it's a tremendous honor to be snatched up by such an historic club, but playing time is hard to come by, particularly when you're stuck behind the likes of Toni Kroos, Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller. Nevertheless, as you see below, Shaqiri's Bayern career has been quite impressive despite the lack of consistent minutes.
Moreover, when we look at his per 90 minute numbers, a dynamic talent begins to emerge; one who creates and scores with deadly efficiency.
Shaqiri averaged 0.69 goals per 90 minutes (3rd on the club), 0.23 assists per 90 (9th on the club), and 3.45 dribbles per 90 (6th on the club), while his 2.65 key passes per 90 minutes actually led Bayern and were fifth overall in the Bundesliga. Once again, when we consider his age and inconsistent minutes, these numbers are quite impressive and seem to fit his billing as the new Arjen Robben.
What's more, Shaqiri is a tremendously versatile player; this past season alone, he featured in virtually every midfield role imaginable and even made a spot appearance as a center forward. Shaqiri is renowned for his crossing, passing, dribbling and playmaking, the latter of which is particularly impressive, as he is adept at creating for teammates from left, right and center.
So what does a young, dynamic player like Shaqiri go for on today's market?
Well, if the rumors are valid, Bayern are holding firm at €20m, despite the fact that Liverpool have seemingly lost interest in his services. Twenty million is more than likely the max Roma would spend on any one player, and his reported two million a year wages are well within the clubs grasp, so, at least on the surface, Xherdan Shaqiri appears to be Roma's ideal big summer signing.
Get on it, Walt.