Xherdan Shaqiri has stressed Liverpool’s intention to surpass our club record points-tally in the Premier League this season as he prepares to return to action.
Shaqiri missed the pre-season tour of the United States, remaining at Melwood to ensure a full recovery from a calf injury.
But, along with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita and Alisson Becker, he’s rejoined the fold in Evian.
The Swiss international was quick to praise the atmosphere in the camp ahead of a seven-pronged assault for silverware.
“I am really happy to be back, finally,” he told the club website. “I had an injury with my national team, so I was doing rehab at Melwood while the team was in America.
“Now I am really delighted to be back, to get started again and be back with the team. I am really happy that finally I am feeling really good and [I am ready] to help my team.
“[Getting injured], this is life and this is football. I am really happy I didn’t miss the start of the season – it’s going to start soon and I am happy to be back before it.
“It’s always nice to see the lads again. They were in America, some of the guys stayed at Melwood, but now we are all together you can see everyone is smiling, laughing. It’s very important to be together and to take our chance this season to achieve a lot of good things.”
It’s been suggested in some quarters that last season’s staggering 97-point tally was the maximum this squad could achieve, but part of the reason the Reds racked up so many was their flawless mentality.
And so it’s no surprise that Shaqiri and his team-mates are brimming with ambition, working to improve in whatever way possible on a campaign in which they were only beaten once.
“Everybody is really hungry and we want to go again,” he said. “We need to show everybody we can do it again and try to also be a little bit better in the Premier League than last year.
“It will be difficult to repeat that as it is a tough league, but we have a good team and we want to do better every year and continue to progress.
“We need to be ready, it will be tough but I am sure we can start well.”
After a series of unconvincing pre-season performances, fans will hope Jurgen Klopp’s side is revitalised by the reintroduction of several key attacking players.
Shaqiri is among those who could get minutes when Liverpool face Lyon in their final friendly of the summer on Wednesday evening.
“We have to see how our legs are, but until now I can say I feel good,” he said. “The other guys look very good, too, so maybe we can grab some minutes. It would be great, but this is the decision of the manager.”
Some customary flashes of brilliance from Shaqiri, either against Lyon or in Sunday’s Community Shield, could go a long way to instilling some calm among the fanbase.
Many supporters fear an injury to Salah or Sadio Mane could derail our season given the substantial drop-off in quality among reinforcements, a drop-off that’s been exposed by some disjointed attacking play in recent matches with the usual front three absent.
Shaqiri’s first season at Anfield was admittedly an inconsistent one, with his involvement and end-product declining as the year progressed. The disruption to his pre-season is a further setback, but with so many competitions to tackle and rotation a must, he might thrive amid the greater responsibility.