Both Manchester United and Liverpool have been linked to rumors that they have been pursuing Bayern Munich midfielder Xherden Shaqiri for the transfer window. Recent reports, however, are indicating that they may have lost the battle before it began as he may be close to a deal to go on loan to Juventus. Though before the transfer window, no deal will be officially announced, Juventus has spoken with Shaqiri’s agent, and there are reports on a few fronts that they may be close to arranging a loan with an option to buy with Bayern.
Given that Shaqiri has been open about wanting to be somewhere else, and that his contract is over in 2016, Bayern is pushing for a forced clause in the deal. That is the only sticking point mentioned in any reports, and a relatively minor one at that. With neither United or Liverpool out of the gate, it still represents a big head start on the part of Juventus. Both Premier League clubs attempted to sign Shaqiri during the summer window and failed to get him, so neither is starting from scratch. It seems certain that any official offer by Juventus will be matched by one or both, so the decision is going to come down to which team convinces him they would be the best fit.
These reports about Juventus nearly having the deal done, however, have to be taken with a grain of salt. The transfer window is not open yet, and this type of posturing to go into the break with the perception of having an advantage is common, if not standard practice. While it might be the case that reports are being made that Juventus has already spoken with Shaqiri’s agent about the deal, it is naive to think that nobody else has. More likely is that United and Liverpool are just a much in the game in terms of contact, but have a different media strategy when it comes to discussing deals. As much as the fans and supporters would like it to be otherwise, nothing real is going to be decided until January.
At this point in the process, only a couple of things are certain. Juventus, United, and Liverpool are all interested and will likely make offers. Inter Milan has been mentioned as a possible fourth suitor, but only by one source. Shaqiri for sure has made it clear that he wants to be elsewhere come January, so a deal is almost certain with someone. Not being able to play in Champions League this year will make next year a priority, leaving Liverpool slightly behind in the running unless they are able to make a big turnaround with this season. United has a better chance at providing that, though their chances of taking the Premier League title are slim at this point, given the way that Chelsea and Manchester City are playing (this Sunday’s matches aside).
The decision is going to come down to where Shaqiri believes he will make the most impact and have the most opportunity. While the current chaos is mostly public relations driven, the truth is that United and Liverpool may actually lose out to Juventus, as he appears to be a good fit there and will have a good opportunity for his ambitions. That said, January is seldom kind to predictions made in December, and there are too many players to guess how everyone will respond with a player of this caliber on the line.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of Calcio Mercato – Flickr License