Mark Hughes and Peter Crouch gave similar brief assessments of Xherdan Shaqiri, their former star player or teammate who is leading Switzerland’s charge at Euro 2020.
It is three years now since Shaqiri left Stoke City, having been part of a side that produced incredible performances against some of the best clubs in the country – but also a side that slipped miserably out of the Premier League.
Hughes had tried to sign him from Bayern Munich then got him for £12m from Inter, a signing with the kind of hype that meant Stoke had to organise an unveiling press conference.
At his best, Shaqiri linked up with Bojan and Marko Arnautovic as Stoke beat Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton. He could be cheeky and once winked at Crouch and Jon Walters on the bench after nutmegging a Hull player on the half-way line.
But Stoke stuttered then slumped during his time as an increasingly important player – and he gave a damning interview when he said that he couldn’t be expected to make a difference in such a poor side.
That didn’t go down well in the changing room and Stoke did go down, with Liverpool activating a relegation release clause to take him as cover and competition for Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino.
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Hughes, who left Stoke half-way through that relegation season, is now on punditry duty as Shaqiri launches his European Championships against Joe Allen’s Wales, setting up the opener for Breel Embolo before being substituted in the 65th minute.
“Shaq is a great kid in as much as he’s a talented boy and he wants to do well,” said Hughes.
“His ability on free-kicks and set plays everybody has seen in recent times.
“At times I think at Stoke, the onus and responsibility was on him was obviously to win us games. That was more difficult on occasions for Stoke.
“At times I think that responsibility was something that he wasn’t prepared to take on.
“I think he enjoys being at top clubs, he’s been at Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Liverpool, but he seems to acquire a similar role.
“He seems quite comfortable in that role of just playing a couple of games and then going out of the team. That demand of having to play well week in, week out is something that he doesn’t enjoy.”
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Crouch has a late night Euros show on BBC One too and previewed the Swiss match last night.
“Wales definitely need to watch out for the main man Shaqiri because he’s capable of this,” he said before showing a video of Shaqiri’s wonder volley at Euro 2016.
“What a goal.
“I have to say, I trained with Shaqiri and on his first day at Stoke I thought he was unbelievable. I thought what a player.
“I think he gave up towards the end… but what a player.”
“Super talented,” added co-host Maya Jama.
Crouch did have a big smile on his face earlier in the programme as Katherine Jenkins got up to sing the Welsh national anthem and belted out Delilah with Alex Horne.