Every footballer dreams of playing for top clubs but it can indeed come at a cost.
Playing at a big club might sometimes mean you might be good enough but not good enough to start as there’s someone else better than you.
A player you have to sympathize with on this note is Xherdan Shaqiri.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s 2018/19 season was a true reflection of the 27-year old’s career.
A hot, promising start with some crucial contributions — not unlike his time at Basel and first season at Bayern Munich — was followed up by a thoroughly unimpressive second half to the campaign.
He struggled to get on the pitch at all, and failed to make much of an impact when he did — mirroring his final days at Bayern, his short-lived spell at Inter, and his uninspiring time at an eventually relegated Stoke.
And of course, with a certain Mohamed Salah occupying the position he can most likely fit in, his chances have further dwindled.
Liverpool have played five matches so far this season including both cup contests, and Xherdan Shaqiri has been on the pitch for a grand total of 15 minutes.
In all three Premier League fixtures, the Swiss international has remained unused, with his only appearance coming in the Community Shield as the Reds chased a result.
In a nutshell, his career at Liverpool has been underwhelming and he can be called a “flop” by standards of expectations.
However, let’s compare the Swiss international to Chelsea’s Pedro.
It goes largely unnoticed how the standards at clubs determine what players outputs are ultimately based on.
A look at both players statistics last season shows how the different situations at clubs affect what players impacts are judged on.
In a Chelsea squad last season, where Hazard was the club’s leading performer with 18 goals and 15 assists, Pedro’s 13 goals and five assists means he was joint with Giroud as the club’s second top scorer although the Frenchman slightly edged him out on assists (eight).
Bearing in mind that five out of Pedro’s 13 goals came in the Europa League and against easier opponents (with all due respect).
By that standard, it would seem Pedro still had a decent season. Right?
Mirror it to that of Shaqiri who could only manage six goals and five assists in all competitions. In actual fact, that tally would mean asides the duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Shaqiri was the joint third-highest performer in the Liverpool squad alongside Divock Origi with six goals but a way lesser one assist.
Making you wonder if Pedro was in the Liverpool side as well, the best he would do is third place as well considering the African duo have simply been unrivalled in recent seasons.
A closer look at the statistics would even show Shaqiri could have been better with more playing time.
Pedro had a total of 2725 minutes of playing time which is way more than double that of the Liverpool man at 1235 minutes.
In actual retrospect what the numbers above mean is that Shaqiri (with 11 goal contributions) averaged a goal/assist every 112 mins which is by far better that of Pedro at a goal/assist every 151 minutes.
It’s very impressive when you further realize he had only two appearances in the Champions League and still managed two assists in only 176 minutes.
Meanwhile, Pedro had the privilege of playing in a less competitive Europa League that helped him chunk up his tally.
Meaning we can actually argue that the Swiss international could easily have had double his last season’s tally had he seen as much playing time or a more lenient competition as Pedro did.
In the end, one is considered a flop and the other is considered a very important squad player.
The stats above still don’t mean Shaqiri could not have done better even with the playing time he had.
Asides all of that, his proneness to injury and prolonged inconsistency levels have been the ultimate deciding factor in his criticism as an “under-performing” player.
Or of what use is a “good player” if he’s never available or trustworthy enough to perform almost every time?
This is why the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are regular starters. They are consistent performers and even when they don’t score or assist, they offer something important to the team.
Ultimately, Shaqiri has been unfairly criticized and with more playing time his numbers and confidence would definitely improve.
*all stats from whoscored.com