Why Xherdan Shaqiri only sits on the bench at Lyon

Xherdan Shaqiri wears the overcoat more often than he would like. picture: imago


Xherdan Shaqiri moved from Liverpool to Lyon for €6m in the summer and was presented there as a new hope. But the Swiss national player is currently not a top performer, but a bench presser.

12/23/2021, 11:48 am12/23/2021, 12:43 p.m

Sandro Zappella
Sandro Zappella


Olympique Lyon only drew 1-1 at home against relegation contenders Metz last night. It was the fourth game in a row without a win, Lyon is only 13th in Ligue 1 with a meager 24 points from 18 games.

Lyon had started the season with great ambitions. Thanks in part to the king transfer of the summer: Xherdan Shaqiri. President Jean-Michel Aulas spoke of a “weighty investment for the coming years” when introducing the Swiss national player.

Well, that investment hasn’t paid off so far. Shaqiri sat on the bench for 90 minutes against Metz. It’s the rule, not the exception. Since the beginning of November, Shaqiri has made just one appearance out of seven in the league, playing 66 minutes. In the Europa League, Shaqiri was allowed to play in five out of six games, but did not have a scorer point.

The crux of the training association

Lyon coach Peter Bosz has reacted to the many disappointing results and recently changed his formation from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-2-1. A system change, actually predestined for an offensive free spirit like Xherdan Shaqiri, who prefers to play in the offensive midfield than on the right wing. In the 3-4-2-1 there would be two of these offensive midfield positions that Shaqiri could take. Could. Because the competition at Lyon is big.

Houssem Aouar (left) and Lucas Paqueta (center) are ahead of Shaqiri in the hierarchy.

Houssem Aouar (left) and Lucas Paqueta (center) are ahead of Shaqiri in the hierarchy.picture: imago

Houssem Aouar is set in attacking midfield. The France international has been at Lyon since he was 11 and has had several offers from top teams but has always remained loyal to the club. He is untouchable at Lyon.

Then there is also the Brazilian Lucas Paqueta. He is gifted and can take any position offensively. So he is Shaqiri in front of the sun both as a right winger and in the offensive midfield. Rayan Cherki can also be used ambivalently in attack. The 18-year-old Frenchman is considered one of the greatest talents in world football, but initially only makes part-time appearances.

In the ranking this Rayan Cherki was still ahead of Xherdan Shaqiri. That also has something to do with Lyon’s standing. The southern French are a training club, which means that they finance themselves to a large extent through transfer proceeds.

This in turn increases the pressure on coach Peter Bosz to use more young players to give them a platform and increase their market value. These include players like Paqueta (24), Aouar (23) and Cherki (18). But not the 30-year-old Xherdan Shaqiri. In case of doubt, Bosz prefers to rely on one of the younger ones instead of the more experienced Shaqiri.

The Lyon players in attacking midfield

Houssem Auar
22 games, 1730 minutes, 5 goals, 2 assists
Luke Paqueta
21 games, 1420 minutes, 7 goals, 4 assists
Ryan Cherki
16 games, 565 minutes, 2 goals, 3 assists
xherdan Shaqiri
13 games, 871 minutes, 1 goal, 2 assists

this: transfermarkt.ch

The main reason for Shaqiri’s underdog role, however, is his past performance. He only collected three scorer points in Lyon in his 13 appearances and he often acted as a foreign body. This is also due to the fact that the Swiss was mostly used as a right winger. Shaqiri was only allowed to play one league game in his preferred position in attacking midfield – in the 2-2 win against Bordeaux he also gave an assist.

“He plays better in the axis – and there we have Houssem Aouar and Lucas Paqueta. That’s why he mostly played on the right. We have several players with the same qualities.”

Peter Bosz on Xherdan Shaqiri

Nevertheless, an icy wind is blowing against Shaqiri. He regularly got bad reviews in the French gazette. The French sports newspaper “L’Equipe”, for example, noted that Shaqiri, as a right winger, had trouble integrating into the Lyon game and that poor performance was increasing. Coach Bosz has already emphasized that he expects more: “It’s clear that he can do better,” said the Dutchman at the beginning of November.

Not least in the national team, Shaqiri proved that he can actually do better. In the important 4-0 win against Bulgaria on November 15, which secured World Cup qualification, Shaqiri was as enthusiastic as ever, played a number of dream passes and finally ended the game with two assists.

Lyon is now on a winter break. The hammer game against Liga Croesus Paris Saint-Germain continues on January 9th. Until then, Shaqiri has time to fight his way into the team. Something he couldn’t do in the summer. The Swiss only moved from Liverpool to Lyon at the end of August – he missed all the preparation, which is also one of the reasons for his initial difficulties.

“He didn’t do the preparation with us. But he’s an intelligent player with exceptional technique, even in tight spaces. I’m sure he will develop and improve.”

Peter Bosz on Shaqiri

Finally, Shaqiri moved from Liverpool to Lyon to finally play an important role again and get more playing time.

Murat Yakin needs a Shaqiri in top form for the Nati.

Murat Yakin needs a Shaqiri in top form for the Nati.Image: keystone

If he doesn’t succeed, it could also have consequences for the national team. Murat Yakin has repeatedly emphasized that he is a “fan of the performance principle”. This also includes regular match practice in the club.

The record players of the Swiss national team


The record players of the Swiss national team

source: epa/keystone / walter beeri

Shaqiri is slipped over UCK jacket

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