Shaqiri's 'top quality' leaves Hughes buzzing

LONDON • Stoke City have more Champions League winners than Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal combined. And one of them - the club's record signing Xherdan Shaqiri - is set to make his English Premier League debut against Norwich City today.

The £12 million (S$26 million) signing from Inter Milan missed last weekend's 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur as he had a domestic ban from his time in Italy. But Stoke manager Mark Hughes said the 23-year-old was raring to go against the Canaries.

"He has had over a week with us now and has developed an understanding of what we are trying to do," Hughes said. "We feel we have brought in a player of real top quality. He can be a really big player for us this season."

The Switzerland international was part of the Bayern Munich squad that won the Champions League in 2014. But he is not the only Potter with a medal from Europe's elite club competition.

Marko Arnautovic (Inter in 2010), Ibrahim Affelay (Barcelona in 2011), Bojan Krkic (Barcelona in 2009 and 2011) and Marc Muniesa (Barcelona in 2009) have all won the Champions League.

In contrast, City, Liverpool and Arsenal have just four Champions League winners between them: Yaya Toure, Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli, and Petr Cec h.

Hughes' new-look side, however, also means that selection headaches await him. One of his dilemmas is whether to include Krkic - out of action since damaging cruciate knee ligaments in January - in today's squad.

The 24-year-old played a full match in last weekend's under-21 triumph over Wolverhampton Wanderers and is back in first-team contention.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Shaqiri's 'top quality' leaves Hughes buzzing'. Print Edition | Subscribe