11 Mar Paul Lambert: Xherdan Shaqiri reaping benefits from big-club experience
Stoke manager Paul Lambert has no doubt the Potters are reaping the benefits of Xherdan Shaqiri’s time with Bayern Munich, even if things did not work out for the winger there under Pep Guardiola.
Shaqiri joined Bayern as a 20-year-old in the summer of 2012 and helped the German giants win the treble in his first season.
Boss Jupp Heynckes was then succeeded at the Allianz Arena by Guardiola, and Shaqiri moved on to Inter Milan in January 2015.
A switch to Stoke followed that summer, and the Switzerland international is currently the club’s key attacker as they battle for Premier League survival.
Shaqiri has scored three times in Stoke’s six matches to date with Lambert in charge, and has seven goals and six assists to his name for the season so far.
Stoke host Guardiola’s table-topping Manchester City side on Monday.
And when asked ahead of the game about how things had gone for Shaqiri at Bayern after Guardiola took charge, Lambert said: “He was a young player at a massive club with Arjen Robben in front of him.
“But I think Shaq at this minute in time is playing incredible football for us. He’s enjoying his football, he’s really on top of his game and he’s a threat.
“He’s played at huge football clubs, and that could be why things never worked out at Bayern, but he was deemed good enough to be there.
“Big clubs will bring you on no end, when you’re playing with great players in big surroundings and the expectancy that you’ve got to try to win trophies.
“That brings you on leaps and bounds, and Shaq has been at those type of clubs.”
While Stoke are 19th in the table, a point adrift of safety, Guardiola is very much closing in on the title, with his side 13 points clear at the top.
Lambert, like so many, is a huge fan of Guardiola’s brand of football, which he got to see at close hand during the latter’s time at Bayern.
And he has labelled the ex-Barcelona boss simply as “the best manager”.
Lambert said: “I met Pep a few years ago. I spent some time with him at Bayern, and at that time I thought he was absolutely brilliant.
“I went over and watched them train, and had about an hour with Pep. He’s at the top of his profession without a shadow of a doubt.
“I also went to watch Manchester City versus Bayern in the Champions League, and it was the best 10-man performance (from Bayern) I’ve ever seen from a team that night. They had a man sent off in the first half, and they were outstanding.
“They were away and I thought ‘bloody hell. that’s brilliant’, with the different moves I’d seen. For me, he’s taken it from Barcelona, to Bayern, to Manchester City.
“I had a great hour or so with him, and I understand why he’s the best. I can see he is the best coach, the best manager.”