Xherdan Shaqiri has professed his love for Stoke City, and promises to fight to the end of a bitterly disappointing campaign. It comes after Stoke blew another huge opportunity to close the gap between themselves and safety, conceding a last minute equaliser at West Ham.
Shaqiri has had a little backtracking to do after quotes emerged of some thinly veiled insults from the Swiss star, directed at his teammates. More specifically how he can’t perform at his best like he could alongside players like Franck Ribery and Mauro Icardi.
Shaqiri had the privilege of playing alongside some world class talent and surely expected more upon his arrival at Stoke City.
“Of course I’m frustrated,” he told the Sentinel. “Everyone has been frustrated all season. We are a better team than where we are at the moment.
“Of course I love the club, I love the fans. I think I’ve done very well for them. I have scored a lot this season, especially in the time we were not so good.”
Shaqiri went on to direct some of the blame towards the Stoke City board, something many fans will echo, after some confounding dealings. A lack of investment and some dire recruitment have contributed greatly to the downfall of Stoke.
“I have more ambition to play at higher levels than the bottom of the table. Everyone wants that but we have to do more to make it happen. I don’t know the reason [we haven’t], you have to ask the sport directors.” Shaqiri continued.
“I chose Stoke because the coach who called me said they were going to make a good team and try in the future to play more in the front of the table. This hasn’t happened."
Shaqiri back his own performances, having been instrumental for Stoke this season with seven goals and six assists.
“I think you can see that my performances have been very good this season and I feel sorry for the fans because they don’t deserve this.
“Let’s see until the end of the season what happens but we will believe until the end.
“I hope we are going to win some games. We have to. We have to win a minimum three games to survive.”
The West Ham fixture was if anything a reminder of how frustrating Shaqiri can be, an example of what held him back at the highest level.
While Shaqiri has had a big impact this season, it’s worth noting his modest goal return is equal to that of his first two seasons combined.
Reflecting on the result he added: “I’m very disappointed after that result. I hope it’s not the end. We believe until the end and, yes, when it comes to Sunday [against Burnley at home] we have to win.”
“I don’t know what to say because it’s been all the season like this. We get in front and then we concede a goal. I think we played very good in the last few games but in the end, it’s important to win and I’m very disappointed.
“It’s difficult to say the reasons. It’s been all season like this. We have to win games. We have to be switched on until the 100 minute if we need, we have to concentrate. It’s small things that always decide a game. There are too many mistakes.
“That hopefully won’t cost us in the end.”
It’s unclear whether Shaqiri is sincere or is looking to save face with fans before his almost inevitable exit. If he really wants to endear himself to fans, he has to show it on the pitch in the remaining fixtures. He is right about one thing though, Stoke really need a win.