With eight minutes left in the game and Liverpool already up 3-1, Xherdan Shaqiri set Michigan Stadium alight on his Liverpool debut. With Ben Woodburn’s cross behind him, Shaqiri contorted his body, and in a show of pure athleticism, scored a bicycle kick that left even his fellow players stunned.
Having just signed for the club a week ago, no one thought Shaqiri would make such an impact from the get-go. Having been a star at the World Cup for Switzerland, his was a big name entering this game. However, even though his introduction to the game was well received, the man he replaced was Mohamed Salah, and people expected less excitement in the second half.
“It was better than I would have expected to be honest,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. “That’s not normal after four days in the club, adapting that well to the style of play.”
His goal was just another stunner in Shaqiri’s collection of wonder goals. Another bicycle kick against Poland in 2016, a chip against Everton in 2015, and the list goes on really.
“I think I’m used to doing it (scoring wonder goals),” Shaqiri said. “I love bicycle kicks, and the ball was perfect, and why you shouldn’t try? I tried, and it was a very beautiful goal.”
Upon entering the field at halftime, Shaqiri showed boundless energy—constantly making runs in behind the back line, holding up play and creating space for his teammates.
One such run saw him get in behind the Manchester United backline and latch onto a longball played into the box. From there he held the ball between three United defenders, freeing up space for his teammates. He then played the ball to an on-rushing Daniel Sturridge who gave Liverpool the lead with their second goal of the game.
“We wanted to give him more freedom offensively,” Klopp said. “(He offers) runs in behind, and that’s what he did for the first goal in the second half.”
A goal and an assist on his unofficial debut against his club's arch-rivals—not bad for a first week with the new club.
Shaqiri has been somewhat of a football journeyman, making a name for himself with FC Basel in the Champions League before being signed by Bayern Munich. After three years playing a bit part role at the Allianz Arena, he was with Inter Milan for part of a season before being shipped to Stoke City in the Premier League.
Once wanted by top clubs across Europe, occasional but inconsistent brilliance saw his stock drop. However, following another strong World Cup with Switzerland, Liverpool thought fit to buy him at a slashed price due to Stoke’s relegation.
Despite only being with the squad for a handful of days, it appears Shaqiri is working hard to settle in and make the most of his time at Liverpool, wanting to skip his holiday post-World Cup and begin training with the team immediately, according to Klopp.
“My first game for this big club, and with a beautiful goal, it’s more beautiful.” Shaqiri said. “It’s amazing to play with this great team, and you can see this team has amazing players. I’m excited (for the season).”
Because the game was still just a friendly, Shaqiri is yet to make his official debut for his new club. But if this is any indication of things to come, the most fearsome attack in Europe last season just got stronger.