PORTO, Portugal (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri, preparing for Thursday’s Nations League semi-final clash with Portugal, says he will stay with European champions Liverpool despite his recent lack of opportunities at the club.
Shaqiri did not feature in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid on Saturday which clinched the Champions League title and has now joined up with the Switzerland side, who take on Portugal at the Dragao Stadium on Thursday.
The former Bayern Munich midfielder was restricted to the bench for the bulk of the Premier League run-in and the final stages of the Champions League, although he helped Juergen Klopp’s side reach the final with a key assist in the 4-0 win in over Barcelona in the last four.
Shaqiri said he knew when he joined Liverpool from Stoke City a year ago that he would face a battle to get regular minutes on the field.
“The manager has many good options and has to decide who can play. I knew before my transfer that the competition here is very tough,” he told Goal.com
“I have a long-term contract and I definitely will stay. It’s a special moment for me standing here with the gold medal again,” he said.
“I’m just proud and happy. I think I contributed my part to the title,” added the 27-year-old who has another four years on his deal at Anfield.
Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic said he has no concern about arguably his most influential player not getting a regular start with his club.
“No – I’m not worried at all, I have seen during our training sessions that my team is very fresh and fit, we had first session, saw same thing with Shaqiri,” he told a news conference.
“It is often about mental strength and he has a very strong mental side. The important thing in this competition is everyone gives their best not only to win the game against Portugal, but also the tournament,” he said.
Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer said the team’s bid for their best ever performance in an international competition was only strengthened by having players like Shaqiri and Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, involved in the business end of the European club season.
Xhaka played for Arsenal in their Europa League final defeat to Chelsea in Baku last week.
“It is great to have players getting some great experience, we’re very proud of Xherdan for winning the Champions League, the same goes for Granit.
“Xherdan came back after a lot of euphoria and it is good for the team that we have players who have had such positive experiences with their clubs.”
Should Switzerland get past the hosts on Thursday they would face England or Netherlands in the Nations League final on Sunday.
“We’ll try and win the tournament,” said Sommer.
“It’s the first Nations League and very exciting for all. We have a strong squad and I’m confident we have a good chance of winning the tournament,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Potter