Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/
  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/


What happened to Xherdan Shaqiri? 31-year-old looks like an overpaid misfit in Chicago

Major League Soccer delivered another Sunday matinee on Apple TV+, following last weekend's thrilling El Tráfico, with Atlanta United opening the roof on Mercedes-Benz Stadium to welcome the Chicago Fire in a match that finished 2-1 in favor of the Five Stripes.

For neutrals, this was an enticing battle of the playmakers as Atlanta's Thiago Almada went toe-to-toe with Xherdan Shaqiri, but that duel never transpired with both teams struggling to maintain their attacking rhythms in the final third — although Giorgos Giakoumakis' opening goal for Atlanta did include a microcosm of Shaqiri's play on the whole. The 31-year-old has never been praised for his work rate, but he's looking a lot like the NYCFC version of Andrea Pirlo right now.

To be honest, the plastic waste jersey looked really fitting on the Swiss international — he kinda looked like floating trash. 

Shaqiri is the ultimate luxury player at the moment, but he's playing for a side that's attempting to build more solid foundations in year two of Ezra Hendrickson. There's always going to be the thrill and the potential for something spectacular when Shaqiri shifts it onto his left foot, but the game largely flew by him during his 61 minutes on the pitch.

That's four appearances in 2023 without a goal or an assist. Chicago paid Lyon $7.5 million last year to get him and signed him through 2024 with his $8,153,000 salary only trailing Lorenzo Insigne's contract as the biggest in MLS.

However, after only scoring seven goals and providing six assists in 29 appearances last year while the Fire missed the playoffs, the pressure was on Shaqiri to deliver this campaign but Chicago's beneath the playoff line and there are legitimate questions about his future in the Windy City.   

The Fire arguably look better when he's not on the pitch — allowing 19-year-old homegrown Brian Gutiérrez to move to an advanced role — but not by much. Shaqiri's understandably the fall guy with his massive contract but this isn't a strong squad.

Kei Kamara's a living legend, but there's no way the 38-year-old is starting on a team that actually envisions lifting MLS Cup. And Chris Mueller, after his failed stint abroad with Hibernian, is a shadow of the player that represented the USMNT in 2020. Shaqiri's blessed left foot doesn't have targets like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino to pick out.  

But with Shaqiri looking increasingly ill-fitted to the task of creating his own space and providing moments of magic, Chicago probably needs to prioritize an organized, collective press over the vision of "the Alpine Messi" hitting one more Puskás contender.

Videos you might like