Every four years, heads are turned when a player puts in a few star performances at the World Cup. And every four years, a club will splash out on that player based solely on that tournament, only for that signing to disappoint.
Take James Rodriguez in 2014, who secured a move to Real Madrid after winning the Golden Boot but dropped off massively during his time in the Spanish capital.
It seems we never learn from history if the latest transfer rumours are to be believed. According to one outlet, Manchester United are the latest big Premier League outfit after Liverpool to be considering a move for Xherdan Shaqiri after the Switzerland international’s performances for his country in Russia.
The thunder-thighed winger would supposedly be able to leave Stoke for £12 million following the Potters’ relegation last season.
Switzerland were knocked out by Sweden in a disappointing Round of 16 defeat but they were impressive at points during the group stages. Vladimir Petkovic’s side held Brazil to a draw in their group opener before securing a dramatic comeback win against Serbia and playing out a mad 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, meaning they finished runners-up.
Shaqiri was their key man, whipping in the corner from which Steven Zuber scored against Brazil and scoring the winner in a fiery battle with Serbia. His eagle celebration in that match was a defiant reference to his Albanian and Kosovar heritage and earned him a 10,000-Swiss franc fine from Fifa.
But would the Switzerland forward really represent good business for Jose Mourinho’s side?
Shaqiri has not lived up to the promise he displayed when he first broke onto the scene as a teenager at FC Basel. He was eight when the Swiss giants approached him and, by 14, people were sitting up and taking notice of the diminutive attacking midfielder with pace and agility in abundance.
It looked like his career would go from strength to strength as he broke into the first team a few years later, and he fast became Basel and Switzerland’s most important player. On the face of it, he has enjoyed a successful trajectory, playing for two of Europe’s biggest clubs in Bayern and Inter while racking up countless trophies during his time in Bavaria.
But the fact he finds himself at Stoke tells you something about Shaqiri’s career path. It has always been a case of unfulfilled potential for the Switzerland star, and he is often presented as an enfant terrible whose attitude does not match his ability.
The mercurial forward was unable to prevent his side from relegation last season and Phil Neville labelled Shaqiri “a disgrace” before the Round of 16 tie versus Sweden. This criticism seems strange given Shaqiri was probably the reason Stoke avoided the drop for so long, with eight goals and seven assists.